“Good day, Ms. Jones. The address on the table is of a client who would like to unsubscribe. Standard cancellation. Nothing too noisy, please.”
–transcript from NBN security feed
The sixty cards (three copies each of twenty different cards) in Trace Amount enable players to dabble with bold new deck configurations. The game’s runners each gain a new event while each of the corporations looks to fund new operations. You’ll also find new hardware, resources, icebreakers, ice, agendas, assets, and upgrades. Traces, tags, and links feature prominently.
As with all the Data Packs from the Genesis Cycle, Trace Amount reinforces the core mechanics and personalities of the game’s seven factions, all while allowing players greater means to narrow their focus and refine their strategies. Trace Amount is a perfect Data Pack for fans of bluffing as its many events and operations open new surprises and synergies, and prove in more than one way that a card in the hand is worth two or more actions on the table. And as one might expect, in a Data Pack all about bluffing and surprises, Jinteki features prominently, gaining a new identity.
Android: Netrunner is a card game in which gaining an economic advantage can be vital. Moreover, as fans of Weyland Consortium’s “tag and bag” strategy have come to realize, it’s also a game of bluffing.
Cards in the hand can have a profound psychological impact. The mere threat of a Scorched Earth (Core Set, 57) frequently forces Runners to scramble for card draw, squandering actions each turn to keep their hands full and keep themselves safe from a loss by meat damage. Whether or not the card in your hand actually is a Scorched Earth may be immaterial; it may not even matter if you have Scorched Earth in your deck. Fear and deception are your allies.
Several of the cards in Trace Amount present other tools with which the Corp player can get into the Runner’s mind space. One of these is Freelancer (Trace Amount, 40).
Most Runners require resources to gain economic advantages. These resources are often such unsavory people and places as underworld figures, side jobs, and the seedy, underground hangouts where they meet other contacts. Such resources have always been vulnerable to Corporate retaliation when the Runner gets himself tagged, but a Freelancer can undercut the Runner’s economy more swiftly and more severely than the base rules allow.
As we saw in an earlier preview, the Corporation always has the option to spend 1 and 2 to trash a resource belonging to a tagged Runner, but Freelancer makes resource destruction a far more effective strategy. The threat of the Freelancer isn’t just the destruction of the Runner’s resources, it’s the destruction of multiple resources at a rate that buries the Runner deeper in an economic hole. The Runner’s life is fueled by credits, after all. Icebreakers are expensive to install and operate. A Runner without credits can hardly run.
That’s the true threat the Corp offers by holding a card that may be a Freelancer. At any time, should the Runner take a tag, the Corp can hire a Freelancer to sweep the rug from under his feet. Take away his income. Take away his card draw. Take away his friends. Leave him alone. Vulnerable. Exposed.
Runners are already gun shy about the threat of Scorched Earth. Its effects are visceral and immediate, but as they learn to adapt and play around the card, Freelancer offers a new way for the Corp to put fear back into them.
Whole Servers Full of Surprises
With seven new events and operations, Trace Amount offers both Corps and Runners plenty of ways to catch their opponents by surprise.
Trace Amount is scheduled to arrive at retailers everywhere in the first quarter of 2013. In the meantime, keep your eyes open as we’ll explore more of its cards in future previews.