|Better Business Together (OR: Calling in Favors)
A Preview of the Honor and Profit Expansion for Android: Netrunner
|Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 07 April 2014|
“You can find anything on the New Angeles black market, if you know who to ask.”
Honor and Profit is coming soon. In our last two previews of this upcoming deluxe expansion for Android: Netrunner, we reviewed the secretive efforts of the expansion’s new Jinteki divisions, and we met the three new Criminals who come ready to carve a profit out of Corporate servers.
Today, we turn our attention toward some of the cards and strategies that the expansion has to offer fans of the game’s other factions.
Better Business Together
Honor and Profit focuses on the tricks and traps employed by the secretive Jinteki and the most talented professionals among the game’s Criminal faction. However, they’re not the only factions who will be able to make use of the expansion’s new technologies and myriad contacts.
If you think about this logically for a moment, it makes sense. The corporations of Android: Netrunner exist to provide goods and services to customers in exchange for credits. They might compete with each other for control of specific markets and key demographics, but whenever their collaboration may result in more credits, they collaborate. Accordingly, the game comes with rules for “influence,” which you can spend to incorporate out-of-faction cards into any deck.
With their influence, the game’s corporations can draw upon the greatest innovations made by other corporations in order to tighten up their efficiencies and complement their core business models. Alternatively, they can use their influence to add new, surprising dimensions to their assets and defenses. Because few corporations offer subtler and more confounding tricks and traps than Jinteki, Honor and Profit is a great purchase for players looking to use their influence to add one or more layers of deception to their Corp decks.
For a mere one influence, Psychic Field (Honor and Profit, 10) is a terrific addition to any NBN or Weyland Consortium deck seeking to balance the ability to advance agendas against the ability to flatline the Runner. If it’s exposed, you can potentially eliminate the Runner’s hand, setting you up for Scorched Earth (Core Set, 99) on your next turn. If the Runner proceeds too cautiously, worrying that he might encounter a Psychic Field, then you can install and advance your cards. NBN and Weyland aren’t famous for their shell games, but Psychic Field may help both of these Corps develop new levels of deception.
Another of the Jinteki cards in Honor and Profit is also worthy of consideration in any Weyland Consortium deck using Building a Better World (Core Set, 93). Medical Research Fundraiser (Honor and Profit, 14) is an operation that costs three credits and yields eight, or nine if you’re running Building a Better World. That’s a terrific return; however, the operation also delivers three credits to the Runner. If your deck is designed to protect servers with impenetrable layers of ice, you wouldn’t dream of giving the Runner credits to spend to fuel icebreakers; you’d want to force the Runner to scrape together his own economy, as slowly as possible. However, if your deck is designed to aim for a quick flatline combo, then you can ignore the fact that you’re helping the Runner set up his late game because you don’t intend to ever let him get that far.
Haas-Bioroid can also benefit from collaborations with Jinteki. Inazuma (Honor and Profit, 16) is a three-cost code gate that does next to nothing on its own, but if you can pair it with another piece of ice, it can give the Runner fits. The deadlier that second piece of ice, the better Inazuma becomes. Of course, you need to have a piece of ice behind Inazuma in order to take advantage of the card, and that means you have to draw the combo in the right order. Then, it also means the combo becomes relatively meaningless after it’s revealed. The Corp’s greatest tool against the Runner is the element of surprise, and if you reveal two pieces of ice, the Runner will be able to use his knowledge of those pieces of ice to determine whether he can break Inazuma and the ice behind it, or if he should just ignore the server. With Awakening Center (Creation and Control, 21), Haas-Bioroid can find its way through this dilemma. The Corp has plenty of deadly bioroid ice at its disposal, and it can keep the Runner guessing at the nature of the ice that he might face after breaking Inazuma. Again, the Runner might just ignore the server, but that might prove the Runner’s fatal error if you use that server to advance and score the agenda points you need to win the game.
Calling in Favors
Just as corporations may exchange new technologies, the runners in Android: Netrunner may refer each other to underworld contacts or provide each other with access to new codes and hardware. Naturally, Honor and Profit introduces a number of elements that may prompt game’s Anarchs and Shapers to dig more deeply into the Criminals’ black market.
Calling in Favors (Honor and Profit, 31) is an event that gets better with each connection resource that you bring into play. Given that many of the game’s best resources are connections and that an event, Hostage (Opening Moves, 4), already exists to help you pull them out of your deck, Calling in Favors may soon find life in any faction, especially Shapers, owing to the fact they already frequently call upon the services of such strong in-faction connections as Aesop’s Pawnshop (Core Set, 47) and Professional Contacts (Creation and Control, 49).
Speaking of connections, Honor and Profit introduces one that functions like a cheap Magnum Opus (Core Set, 44). Tri-maf Contact (Honor and Profit, 50) rewards you two credits for one click, just like Magnum Opus, though the connection costs three less to install. Furthermore, because Tri-maf Contact is a resource, it doesn’t drain any of your precious memory units, leaving you free to focus on breakers, viruses, or other programs. On the other hand, Tri-maf Contact comes with two drawbacks. First, you can only use it once per turn. This drawback, however, can be bypassed by installing more than one copy of the card. The second drawback, though, could potentially leave you in a bit of a pinch. If your Tri-maf Contact is ever trashed, you must suffer three meat damage. This drawback might keep Tri-maf Contact out of some Shaper decks, since they have plenty of other means of generating credits; however, it’s just another day at the office for those reckless Anarchs who adhere to their faction’s unofficial motto, “No risk, no fun.” Still, it’s generally considered good form to live up to your obligations once you’ve contracted with the Tri-maf.
Finally, you can expect to see plenty of Runners make use of the expansion’s new program, Grappling Hook (Honor and Profit, 45). For two credits and just two influence, you can install and later trash this program to break every subroutine but one on any piece of ice. Its effect partners naturally with that of e3 Feedback Implants (Trace Amount, 24), which requires another two influence per copy. Together, they form a fantastically inexpensive and wonderfully strange breaker suite capable of plowing through just about any piece of ice. Once you have them in play, you can run with relative impunity because the ice they can’t break will rarely harm you. Most single-subroutine layers of ice simply end the run. They’re great tools for Anarchs and Shapers looking to create an early game presence as they build toward their ultimate late game rigs, and Grappling Hook becomes even better if you add a measure of recursion to your deck. In fact, since it’s a great program to recur, it may become a signature inclusion in any deck built around Exile (Creation and Control, 30).
Not all the best ideas in Honor and Profit are for sale from Jinteki or Criminal connections. Thirty of the expansion’s cards (three copies each of ten different cards) belong to no faction. Split evenly between Corp and Runner, these cards introduce a number of tricks and traps every bit as devious as those that belong to Jinteki and the Criminals.
We’ve already revealed some of the Corp’s new neutral options in the expansion’s announcement and our look at what it offers Jinteki. Still, it’s worth taking another moment to acknowledge the utility of the ambush, Plan B (Honor and Profit, 23), and a couple more of the set’s neutral cards.
The successful use of any ambush demands that you manage to bait the Runner into running against it. Then, you need to be able to trigger the ambush, often by paying a number of credits. If you trigger it, you then benefit from its effects, which most often – but not always – scale with the number of times you have advanced it. Plan B is no different in these regards, but whereas the standard ambush penalizes the Runner by damaging him or trashing his programs, Plan B, instead, advances your goals. It’s one of the few assets that can potentially win you the game whenever the Runner stumbles upon it, and because it’s neutral, it can play equally well in a Jinteki deck that layers its traps with Project Junebug (Core Set, 69) or in a Haas-Bioroid deck that adds additional layers of intrigue and impact with Cerebral Overwriter (Creation and Control, 9).
Of course, part of selling that ambush might be convincing the Runner that you have something he needs to steal before you score it, and selling your bluff might be one of the best possible reasons to play with Fast Track (Honor and Profit, 27). In a “fast advance” deck, this operation can help you find the points you need to win the game, but the operation also works well within a Corp deck that relies more upon psychology and misdirection.
For example, imagine you caught the Runner at a point where his funds were strapped enough that you knew he could break through the ice on your remote server in a couple turns, but such an effort would drain him of all his credits. You could search for an agenda like Fetal AI (Trace Amount, 32) or NAPD Contract (Double Time, 119) and install a card into a remote server. Will your opponent run when he knows he can’t afford to steal the agenda? Not likely. Beside, if the agenda you reveal requires four or five advancement to score, he’ll still have one more chance to steal it… so he passes. That’s when you advance the other agenda that you installed three times and score it. There are other ways to abuse the knowledge you give the Runner, and Fast Track helps you with many of them.
We Know People
Oracle May (Honor and Profit, 54) is a one-cost connection with worlds of potential, and she’s absolutely fantastic in a Shaper deck. This is because Shapers have both Motivation (Opening Moves, 8) and Test Run (Cyber Exodus, 47) to reveal or fix the top card of your stack. Paired with either of these, Oracle May offers an astounding return of one draw and two resources for just one click. That simply can’t be beat.
Another of the connections in Honor and Profit also looks to make a big impact in fast-rig Shaper decks; Donut Taganes (Honor and Profit, 55) is a resource that raises the play cost of all operations and events by one. The massive impact of his ability is balanced by the fact that he’s a double-edged sword… except when he isn’t. He cuts both ways if you play events in your Runner deck, but if you’re not running any events (or even if you’re just running a couple), Donut only hinders the Corp. And if any faction can ignore events, it’s the Shapers. Their diverse array of programs can do just about anything events could do, and Donut Taganes is likely going to encourage a number of decks that put that theory to the test.
Finally, our last look at the expansion’s neutral cards is at the AI icebreaker, Overmind (Honor and Profit, 53), which functions a bit like the Core Set AI, Crypsis (Core Set, 51) insofar as both work against any form of ice and start at a base strength of zero. Furthermore, each presents a limited lifespan. Crypsis is discarded after it’s used during an encounter with a piece of ice, unless the Runner discards a hosted virus counter, and while you could keep placing virus counters on Crypsis, it just isn’t economically viable to spend click after click to place hosted virus counters on the AI. Overmind, on the other hand, won’t go away, but its utility will. When you install Overmind, you add one hosted power counter for each unused MU. Thus, if your base MU is four, and Overmind is your first installed program, it comes into play with three power counters. Then, Overmind can gain one strength for one credit and discard a power counter to break any ice subroutine.
Like Crypsis and Atman (Creation and Control, 40) before it, Overmind is likely to spur a number of deck types that run it as a solitary icebreaker. Then, in order to gain the greatest utility from the card, players are likely to partner it with Grappling Hook and e3 Feedback Implants in order to reduce the number of subroutines it needs to break, or simply power it up by generating loads of early, inexpensive MU with cards like Q-Coherence Chip (Honor and Profit, 52), Chaos Theory (Cyber Exodus, 46), and Deep Red (Mala Tempora, 42).
Choose Your Path
Honor and Profit is coming soon. Will you choose the path of personal evolution, the path of personal profit, or another path entirely? There’s plenty of technology and deception for all seven of the game’s factions, so be sure to keep your eyes open for more news about this upcoming deluxe expansion!
Based on the classic card game designed by Richard Garfield, Android: Netrunner The Card Game is a game for two players set in the dystopian future of Android. It pits monolothic megacorps against subversive netrunners in a high-stakes struggle for the control of valuable data.