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What Lies Ahead and the Metagame


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#1 Runix

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Posted 31 December 2012 - 02:41 PM

After doing some deck building and testing with the new expansion, I think it's a strong addition to the game - but then, the first expansion usually is!  But I had some quick thoughts on how it may impact the metagame.

Corporation:  Overall, I think the expansion really boosts the Corporation player.  One of the issues with the Core Set was that the Corp player was fairly tightly constrained in deck building due to difficulty balancing the mix of cards (agendas, ice, etc.) with the agenda requirements and faction limitations.  The expansion really starts to open things up for Corp by adding new options for agendas in particular.

Agendas:  Some of the new agendas may have some real utility, but the main advantage of the having new agendas is that the Corp player can now actually start making some choices on the mix of agendas in the deck.  That's a big change from the Core Set, where the only viable approach was to put all the neutral and faction agendas into the deck, due to the restriction against out-of-faction agendas and the minimum AP requirement, which left very little room for adjustment.

The biggest benefit probably goes to NBN and Weyland, as they now have agendas at a good range of price points available, and therefore can significantly alter the number of agenda cards in the deck.  All the Corp factions benefit, though, by having more faction-specific agendas available, which will let them drop agendas that don't synchronize with the rest of the deck.

Ice:  As with the agendas, I think the main impact of the new ice will simply be to give the Corp player more options on structuring the overall deck.  More neutral and on-faction ice at different price points and of different types will help the Corp player build either a faster or a stronger deck, rather than having to dig into other faction ice at a sometimes steep influence cost to do the same.

Draco:  The ice included tends to be more-of-the-same for each of the factions, although I think Draco bears a special mention.  While it's weak relative to other ice, it's super-cheap and neutral, and as such will really help support quick-and-dirty Corp decks, and is certainly useful for bluffing.  It's particularly useful for a Corp player who is able to maintain a significant economic advantage over a Runner with weak link strength, as it forces the Runner to spend credits on either breaking it or fending off a trace attempt.  The flexible cost is really nice, even if in most cases it doesn't make sense to spend much more than a couple credits rezzing it, as it means you are guaranteed to get it up.  And really nice for NBN with their free trace credits.

Runner:  I don't see as much advantage for the Runner from this expansion.  None of the cards really open up new Runner strategies - they do tend to provide a bit more flexibility in choice of cards for existing strategies, but not much beyond that.

Whizzard:  I'm a little cool on Whizzard, but he may not be that bad.  Noise is great, but it's conceivable that an Anarch may want to put together a deck that is something other than a Virus deck, and if so, Whizzard's not a bad choice.  The main advantage is being able to hammer the Corp economy, primarily by clearing out pesky PAD Campaigns and Adonis Campaigns, and by trashing expensive upgrades like SanSan City Grid.  For an Anarch who intends to focus on remote servers instead of the Archives, it's a decent choice, but not quite game-changing.

ZU.13 Key Master:  The included ice will help each faction fill out a full set of icebreakers without having to resort to out-of-faction cards or Ye Olde Crypsis, which is nice.  But the real star of the new icebreakers is certainly the dog.  The 0 MU requirement is just really good, particularly for Naturals who really want to work a Magnum Opus into the mix, and who often have the link strength to host ZU.13.  Yes, in the long run the Gordian Blade may be better, but slot efficiency is really good for structuring the Runner's rig, and I think this is the obvious choice for now.

Plascrete Carapace:  This is the one card that I think changes the game for the Runner, and I'm a bit surprised that it seems to have received only a lukewarm response.  One big issue that Runners now need to consider is that, particularly with Project Atlas available, Weyland can easily fish out two Scorched Earths and finish off the Runner with a double-barrel shotgun blast the second the Runner gets tagged.  That's incredibly dangerous.  Carapace is the perfect answer and should help the Runner survive even a worst-case scenario.  I think tag-and-bag strategies are still very viable, but this card should help the Posted Bounty-Scorched Earth-Scorched Earth nightmare from becoming a common occurrence.

What's Missing?  Two things this expansion seems to be short on:  cool operations that open up new tactics, and new sources of income.  Neither is particularly critical, as the Core Set has a fair number of both.  I think that's fine, as what the expansion really needed was to fill out options on agendas, ice, and icebreakers, but I'd like to see some more attention to operations and economics in upcoming expansions.



#2 Fenris_Chosen

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 06:52 AM

Good analysis!  Keep it up.  



#3 wildfire393

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 01:36 PM

Some thoughts of my own:


The other Anarch cards really do deserve mention for their individual merits.

Spinal Modem provides one of the strongest benefits of The Toolbox (the 2 Recurring Credits) for less than half the price, while still providing enough +Memory to fit in a Magnum Opus, Sneakdoor Beta, or Parasites next to a Breaker of each type (assuming you avoid Battering Ram or Morning Star for your Fracter). I'm not sure how strong it is in Anarch decks, as they need to expend influence on The Rabbit Hole/Helpful AI to buff their Link, but it's a very powerful addition to Shaper decks. I'm also tinkering with a non-virus (or at least, Virus-light) Anarch build with Whizzard at the helm, Spinal Modem, and all three Fixed Breakers. I'm not sure that the Fixed Breakers get the job done with no Parasites and limited Datasucking, but their cheap break costs plus the free credits from this and Cyberfeeder could create a situation where the runner gives the corp very little leeway.

Imp is also a very useful and interesting card. The fact that it can nuke Operations and Ice from hand can really hurt the Corporation, and it makes runs on HQ and R&D a lot more profitable (as you can trash past those things you normally would not be able to, increasing your chances of hitting agendas). It is also a Virus, giving it obvious synergies with the Anarch suite of cards.



#4 Syphus

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 03:51 PM

wildfire393 said:

Imp is also a very useful and interesting card. The fact that it can nuke Operations and Ice from hand can really hurt the Corporation, and it makes runs on HQ and R&D a lot more profitable (as you can trash past those things you normally would not be able to, increasing your chances of hitting agendas). It is also a Virus, giving it obvious synergies with the Anarch suite of cards.

Can we talk about Imp for a second. I've never played an Anarch deck, but my girlfriend does and we were looking at it today. So it gets two counters when it starts (or three with Grimoire). But, once it's used twice, what happens to it? Am I missing something?



#5 PsiLAN

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Posted 01 January 2013 - 11:13 PM

Syphus said:

Can we talk about Imp for a second. I've never played an Anarch deck, but my girlfriend does and we were looking at it today. So it gets two counters when it starts (or three with Grimoire). But, once it's used twice, what happens to it? Am I missing something?

Is completetly useless 'till the day a card creates or moves virus counters.

Now it just keeps there ocupying a ram slot, or waiting till the pawnshop converts into 3crs.



#6 Syphus

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 05:18 AM

PsiLAN said:

Syphus said:

 

Can we talk about Imp for a second. I've never played an Anarch deck, but my girlfriend does and we were looking at it today. So it gets two counters when it starts (or three with Grimoire). But, once it's used twice, what happens to it? Am I missing something?

 

 

Is completetly useless 'till the day a card creates or moves virus counters.

Now it just keeps there ocupying a ram slot, or waiting till the pawnshop converts into 3crs.

That's what I thought. Also ignoring all the other issues, if you purge virus counters once it enters, it basically becomes useless.



#7 Fenris_Chosen

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 06:18 AM

wildfire393 said:

Spinal Modem provides one of the strongest benefits of The Toolbox (the 2 Recurring Credits) for less than half the price, while still providing enough +Memory to fit in a Magnum Opus, Sneakdoor Beta, or Parasites next to a Breaker of each type (assuming you avoid Battering Ram or Morning Star for your Fracter). I'm not sure how strong it is in Anarch decks, as they need to expend influence on The Rabbit Hole/Helpful AI to buff their Link, but it's a very powerful addition to Shaper decks. I'm also tinkering with a non-virus (or at least, Virus-light) Anarch build with Whizzard at the helm, Spinal Modem, and all three Fixed Breakers. I'm not sure that the Fixed Breakers get the job done with no Parasites and limited Datasucking, but their cheap break costs plus the free credits from this and Cyberfeeder could create a situation where the runner gives the corp very little leeway.

 

Yet the danger of Spinal Modem is ever present, especially with NBN and Weyland decks.  I think its too much risk for not enough reward.  4 cost is handy, but even then its not sitting on the "cheap" side of the fence.  



#8 Runix

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Posted 02 January 2013 - 08:49 AM

Syphus said:

Can we talk about Imp for a second. I've never played an Anarch deck, but my girlfriend does and we were looking at it today. So it gets two counters when it starts (or three with Grimoire). But, once it's used twice, what happens to it? Am I missing something?

You pawn it to Aesop or just trash it when you install something else, then you pull it out of the discard pile with Deja Vu and run it again.  If you have three Imps in the deck and a Grimoire installed and two or three copies of Deja Vu available, you should be able to do insane amounts of damage to the Corp.  Provided you can get past the wall of ice he will inevitably build around his R&D and HQ, of course . . .

I don't see either Whizzard or Imp as being game-changers - Anarchs were already able to freely trash Corp cards with Demolition Runs - but they do ramp up the destructive potential.  I see Anarchs as having two strong styles of play available - ice erosion builds relying on viruses, or mass sabotage - when in the Core Set only the former style of play was really viable.

With respect to Spinal Modem, I think the jury's out on that.  With ice already rezzed, you should be able to figure out if you can break any ice and/or beat any trace attempts.  Against unrezzed ice, you can figure maybe one trace(3) per unrezzed ice, and decide if you're willing and able to beat it, so I don't think the risk is all that high.  But oddly enough, I think Spinal Modem may work well in either an economically-oriented Criminal deck, where the idea is that the Runner will be rich while the Corp is not, or in a Shaper deck where the Runner can count on a big link strength.  Just not sure how well it fits into an Anarch deck.



#9 wildfire393

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Posted 03 January 2013 - 03:05 AM

Runix said:

With respect to Spinal Modem, I think the jury's out on that.  With ice already rezzed, you should be able to figure out if you can break any ice and/or beat any trace attempts.  Against unrezzed ice, you can figure maybe one trace(3) per unrezzed ice, and decide if you're willing and able to beat it, so I don't think the risk is all that high.  But oddly enough, I think Spinal Modem may work well in either an economically-oriented Criminal deck, where the idea is that the Runner will be rich while the Corp is not, or in a Shaper deck where the Runner can count on a big link strength.  Just not sure how well it fits into an Anarch deck.


It's important to note that it only affects traces during a run, so SEA Source and Restructured Datapool will not trigger it.

As far as traces during a run go, they are almost all restricted to Sentries with 4 or less power. Viktor, Hunter, Data Raven all have four power, and Matrix Analyzer and Caduceus have three. The only cases you'll need to worry about a higher-strength Trace is:
Draco - He can be flipped up with 5 or more power
Shadow - Can be advanced 4 or more times to get beyond 4 power
Neither of which are super common situations, and hopefully if you run into a high-strength Draco, it should hopefully cost the corp enough to rezz it that you can beat the trace the first time. As for Shadow, you just have to avoid running on unrezzed cards with too many advancement counters on them (but if the corp is investing all of their resources into this, you're probably fine).
This means that an Anarch deck running Mimic + Ice Carver or Personal Touch should be able to happly ignore the vast majority of Subroutine-based Traces.

Apart from these Sentries, the only cards that Trace during a run are TMI on its flip-up and ASH. These two cards are probably the biggest impediment to a Spinal Modem strategy, as TMI keeps flipping up until you lose a Trace (meaning it's a guaranteed one brain damage, though with enough link you make it a pretty costly accomplishment for the corp to achieve), and Ash has a high Trace with a powerful side effect.



#10 mdc273

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 04:59 AM

What do you see in Zu.13 that you make it out as a great card? It is less efficient than Gordian Blade, by a significant amount as the game goes on. It requires you to have 3 link (difficult outside of Shaper) to get the equivalent of a Mem Chip.

What benefits are you seeing in a Shaper deck or a non-Shaper deck?



#11 Intentionally Anonymous

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Posted 04 January 2013 - 06:47 AM

mdc273 said:

 

What do you see in Zu.13 that you make it out as a great card? It is less efficient than Gordian Blade, by a significant amount as the game goes on. It requires you to have 3 link (difficult outside of Shaper) to get the equivalent of a Mem Chip.

What benefits are you seeing in a Shaper deck or a non-Shaper deck?

 

 

Outside of a Chaos Theory deck I'm already toying with ZU.13 has completely replaced Gordian Blade for me in Shaper.  Between Kate's natural 1 link and gaving in-faction Rabbit Hole and The Helpful AI it is almost always 0 MU and costs 0 to play with Kate's identity ability.  The big thing however is the 0 MU; with that you can run ZU.13, Corroder, Mimic/Ninja AND have room for Magnum Opus.  The only reason I haven't played that card before was the fact that it took 2 MU so if I wanted it I was limiting myself by loosing out on 1 type of breaker.  And it's only marginally less efficient than Gordian Blade unless the Corp has stacked a bunch of code gates in one server which I personally always go out of my way to not do (with any type of ice).

Basically getting a free in everyway (credit and MU) ice breaker is good.  Really ZU.13 was my favorite card of the first set and basically makes my Shaper deck work.

 

EDIT: At this time I wouldn't ever use ZU.13 outside of Shaper (Kate specifically) unless I was already running Gordian Blade and REALLY needed a little more influence.






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