"What is it? It’s a minor miracle. It’s a window of opportunity. It’ll give you about eight seconds undetected. But it’ll cost you."
–Hernando Cortez, former Weyland technician
As the first Data Pack in the Genesis Cycle for Android: Netrunner, What Lies Ahead provides a boost to each of the game’s seven factions. The rich get richer, and the runners gain new tools. The Anarchs become more destructive, Shapers get more creative, and the game’s Criminals make their runs more smoothly than ever. One key card? The Cortez Chip (What Lies Ahead, 5).
All runners are criminals, at least if you ask the corps or the police, but those who count themselves members of the Criminal faction embrace their rogue lifestyles. They turn their mixture of talent and self-interest into an running business, and they don’t care who gets hurt so long as they get ahead. They’re not in the game to trash corporate code or see how far they can tweak their breakers. They’re in it to catch some quick credits, and that means they’re happy to use every dirty trick they can find that will help them avoid nasty ice, get into the right servers, and get out…a little richer for their efforts.
To that end, crafty criminals may want to get their hands on a Cortez Chip, an innovative piece of hardware that can potentially allow a runner to slip past a piece of ice, unimpeded. The Cortez Chip can be handy in multiple circumstances but is arguably most effective on a turn in which it can afford the runner multiple free or cost-reduced runs, especially since the game’s first Criminal, Gabriel Santiago (Core Set, 17), gains credit incentives to run on HQ. The odds are always good that a Corporation will have an agenda in their HQ, but where the top card of R&D is always changing and agendas in remote servers become vulnerable as they’re advanced, agendas in HQ are hidden among other files. Thus, pulling an agenda out of HQ isn’t just a matter of making a successful run, but of successfully accessing the right card. If an early Cortez Chip prevents your opponent from rezzing his ice, you can get as many as four shots at any agendas your opponent has in his hand!
The Cortez Chip is great on its own, but it truly shines when used in combination with any of a handful of cards from the Core Set.
Criminals excel at devastating Corporate economies and applying early pressure with cards like Account Siphon (Core Set, 18) and Forged Activation Orders (Core Set, 20). If a Criminal manages to drain a Corporation’s accounts with Account Siphon, it increases the chances the Corp player won’t be able to rez the ice targeted by the Cortez Chip. Then, a Forged Activation Orders could force the Corp to discard that ice. Alternatively, a runner might use Forged Activation Orders to lure the Corp into rezzing a piece of ice on another server, then targeting another piece of ice with the Cortez Chip.
While these tactics require some educated guesses, Lemuria Codecracker (Core Set, 23) and Infiltration (Core Set, 49) can simplify your decisions by first exposing the ice you wish to target. When you know how much the Corp has to pay to rez the targeted ice, you can push your economic advantages to maximum effect.
Meanwhile, some Criminals may even put the Cortez Chip to good use by pairing it with some Anarch tech and taking a detour from HQ to launch a surprise raid on R&D. Over the course of multiple successful runs, the program, Medium (Core Set, 10), accelerates your ability to access files from R&D. Because the Cortez Chip doesn’t take a click to activate, if a Criminal with a Medium installed can trash the Cortez Chip to prevent a Corp from rezzing the ice installed on his R&D, four successful, successive runs would see the Corp player access one, then one, then two, and finally three cards. Of course, if any of those cards were agendas, or if the runner could pay their trash costs, the total number of cards accessed may well go further than three deep.
Window of Opportunity
How will you make use of the Cortez Chip on your runs? This cheap and efficient hardware is certain to cause Corporations plenty of headaches when it comes out with the release of What Lies Ahead. Until then, keep checking our site for more announcements and previews!