Are 5/3s without self-protection dead?

Just like it says in the title.

What are the main reasons to run a 5/3?

  1. To win after scoring your 3rd agenda rather than your 4th.
  2. To reduce agenda density in your deck.

Are there any 5/3s left that get played for their ‘when scored’ ability, now that GFI is universally available? Building a deck that has synergy with a scored 5/3 ability is inherently a gamble that will hurt your deck’s consistency. Let’s go over them briefly:

  • Priority Requisition requires unrezzed expensive ice installed to get a benefit. It certainly saw play in glacier decks, but at its heart, it’s an economic ability, as as corp econ has gotten better and better, this ability became less and less important.
  • Restructured Datapool and Executive Retreat pretty much only saw competitive play very early on, when there simply weren’t enough decent 2-pointers to include in your deck, if even then.
  • Project Wotan requires you to run bioroids, and is very unimpressive.
  • Weyland has the most 5/3s, but it’s also the most problematic corp faction right now. Government Contracts was a decent approach for BABW to leverage it’s early event economy into a steady persistent econ, but it’s pretty much obsolete. Punitive Counterstrike is one way to leverage 3±pointers into a winning condition, which let’s you run The Cleaners and High-Risk Investment. But this deck doesn’t seem to be consistent enough for Tier 1.
  • Eden Fragment has a strictly economic ability. Hades Fragment and Utopia Fragment both have good abilities, but they’re one-ofs. You can’t expect to score them early, and hence build your deck around their ‘when scored’ ability. Is it only their one-of status, and the lack of a way to easily tutor for them and IAA in the same turn what holds them back? If there’s a competitive tier 1 deck that uses 5/3s, I would expect it to use cards like these.
  • Labyrinthine Servers is another 5/3 with an unimpressive ability
  • Hollywood Renovation wants you to either build around advancable ice, which is a seperate can of worms, or to have a server the runner can’t get in for multiple turns, to build some sort of FA-enabler? No.
  • I have no idea if there’s anything interesting in the Mumbad spoilers.

The biggest problem with 5/3s other than TFP and GFI is that they enable the runner to win by accessing 3 agendas instead of 4 (or more). The question is if any 5/3 is, or can be, powerful enough to make up for that.

Weyland seems to be in the best position to leverage 5/3s, but they’re not doing well right now. Media Blitz is perhaps one way to account for the problem of losing a one-of shard agenda, and leverage The Cleaners in a kill deck.


Occasionally a GRNDL with its influence tied up elsewhere will play a single High-Risk Investment to fetch with Atlas, but even most of them play Food.

Having played some rush GRNDL, there’s another big problem with 5/3s: you either have to top-deck them or hold them in hand for a turn. You can’t Jackson draw to dig for one when you have a window, and you can’t Fast Track. It’s my believe that if any non-GFI/TFP 5/3s are to see play, FFG needs to print an “IAA 5/3” tutor with a “can’t score this turn” clause so that it doesn’t just make everyone play NBN.


It’d be reasonable for them to print a 5/3 with a really really good ability and it could well see play, but the abilities of the 5/3s we have at current are nowhere near good enough to justify their downsides.

4/2s are not too dissimilar from 5/3s. The ability either needs to be really good (Nisei, Oaktown) or they need to protect themselves (NAPD). There aren’t any other 4/2s that see vast amounts of play and that’s for a very good reason. 5/3s are just the same, except the ability needs to be even better. I couldn’t see any 5/3s seeing play unless their ability was extremely good, and the bar is set extremely high.


Weyland is the one faction that can tutor & IAA a 5/3 with an Atlas token; that used to be a big reason to include one in rush decks.

But you didn’t include the 5/3 primarily for its ability, hence GFI has taken that spot.


Surely being worth an extra point is already a significant benefit for merely one more advancement? What if there was a 4/3?

I see that extra point as also having text that says, “Now you get to lose with one less agenda stolen.” But I play Blue Sun bootcamp more often than not, so I’m biased. I win many, many games 7/6 with a GFI sitting in their score area.


Fundamentally, I think the answer to the OP’s question is yes. The drawbacks of 5/3s - that they’re unwieldy to score (taking two full turns during which you can do nothing else); and that they can give the runner a win on 3 steals - tend to combine together to form something even worse than the sum of their parts. If you draw them during the early- to mid-game, they just sit in HQ because you can’t score them without a solid board, and so you run the risk of the runner getting halfway to winning the game every time they access HQ.

Even if the ability was really good, it would do nothing to address this problem. You’d probably end up with higher variance games decided on whether that agenda was scored or stolen first.


I think yes, at least for the time being. One of the partially spoiled cards from Mumbad seems to be a corp turntable. If that turns out to be true then we could see a resurgence of 5/3 agendas.

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Yeah, I don’t want to see this. Some games are already massively skewed by scoring an early e.g. Astroscript, and I don’t like the huge variance that has added into the game. Making it 3 points and what would need to be an even stronger ability just seems crazy.

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You haven’t played nbn until you played the Media Blitz / Restructured Datapool garbage combo.

In a more serious note, I have a flirty kinda love affair with 8 agenda HB. I need at least 1 real 5/3 to do it.

And yes. It will be 1. But I get a cool choice to make for it. I choose Utopia, but it could be fucking anything really. But I would give up an ability, or a when scored effect, for something like NAPD or something that makes taking it harder.

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This is why we need 5/3 Fast Track!

Yeah and nobody plays 3/1s unless they have a really good ability cause they increase agenda density. So no one plays 5/3s unless they’re good and no one plays 4/2s unless they’re good and no one plays 3/1s unless they’re good and thus 3/2s are the only agendas.


You forgot 2/1


And amusingly, the only time people play 2/1s is if they’re good. It’s just Breaking News and 15 Minutes are both really good.


We’ll find out soon when Improved Protein Source drops.

4/2’s seem like they have the most design space, since they don’t need to protect themselves to be worth the risk, and can have some pretty exciting abilities. 3/1’s end up costing you so much tempo to score that they are rarely worth it, but 4/2’s main cost isn’t the tempo, but the inability to bluff with them. I’d love to see some more 4/2’s with abilities tailored to different strategies, the way Nisei Mk II incentivized glacier strategies, and geothermal supported sea/scorch/scorch decks.

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Yes, but it’s one extra point for either side.

There’s a massive difference between a 2/1 and a 3/1, since the 2/1 can be scored from hand. There’s a great difference between a 3/2 and a 4/2 too, since the 3/2 is able to masquerade as something unimportant for the one Runner turn it needs to survive while the 4/2 needs advancing. Those are really massive differences in the tactics required to play the agenda types.

In contrast, with either a 4/2 or a 5/3 the tactic is the same: install and advance turn one, survive the Runner turn, advance and score turn two. The extra click and credit aren’t nearly as crucial in changing your play tactics as the difference in having to survive one less turn installed, or masquerading as an asset versus being advanced. The real difference in 4/2 and 5/3 is do you want to play high or low variance dependant on whether the Runner gets in that single turn or finds the agenda in a central?

The next real difference in agenda play style from 4/2 is Vanity Project at 6/4 since that’s one more turn it needs to survive installed.


I’ve currently been testing out a Weyland 7-Agenda 5/3 deck. Because I’d have seven agendas either way, I do have one Oaktown in there… (Really useful if I have a 5/3 in my hand to bait a run out first and then IAA the 5/3 right after…) Weyland does have a unique reason to run 5/3 in Public Support, because I only need to score twice, and Support will give me the win. Because it’s 7-agenda, there’s not much reason to run GFI in it. I still need 3 scores, and so does the Runner, unless literally all three steals were GFI.

I’ve found High-Risk Investments to be a very useful Agenda to defend against Account Siphon. Once it’s scored, I’m perfectly happy to let you double my money for me. Government Contracts similarly lets me not worry about Siphons… The deck loses out of R&D and Remote, so it doesn’t like to ice HQ much at all. Those two agendas let me avoid icing HQ as long as one of them is scored.

However, this deck is a bit of anomaly. If you aren’t going for minimum agenda density while still being score-able (Government Takeover…) then non-TFP 5/3’s are going to be worse than GFI.

Actually, I think a 4/3 does do something new, because it gives “fast advance” tools new life as “never advance” tools. I can install my 4/3 face down, pass the turn, and then biotic labor/trick of light/ Jeeves model bioroid to score it right away. This is an interesting design space, and gives these tools new life outside of pure fast advance, and gets around clot as well.


a 5/3 Fast Track + Free Install *

Overall agree with @Kesterer, PriReq, Cleaners, and HRI might enable some decks as they have impactful abilities, but we haven’t seen a Cleaners deck in a long time because the tempo hit of scoring a 5/3 with Runner econ/protection so robust; even that 5/3 should be scratched off the relevant ability list.

I think it’s safe to say that we won’t see a tournament-winning deck with non-protective 5/3s unless it’s running Punitive Counterstrike. Is it possible? Yes. Is it optimal? Probably not, find room for GFIs.

I do have some hope & optimism for viable 4/2s. Advanced Hopper is alright (but HB currently does not have a true horizontal strategy and is Efficiency Committee better?), and that Corporate Team or whatever (10c drip over 5 turns) is a really nice neutral for tempo decks (2c more than Oaktown overall & neutral!). I think Mumbad will have some bold, powerful agendas and I’m looking forward to it.

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