I know we’re quite a ways off, and it’s a bit early to be jumping to conclusions, but try as I might, I simply can’t get a Caïssa-based rig to perform better than Anarchs are currently. Here’s some of pitfalls I’m attempting to overcome.
Space - Roughly 9 cards allocated to Caïssa programs (2 apiece; I can see justifying up to +/-4) takes up quite a bit of room, especially considering other breakers will most likely be needed, as well as economy, run modifiers, etc. Also factor in available space for programs - only 3 MU for Caïssa programs is a nice bit, but isn’t a ton either, and makes running viruses extremely difficult with a full breaker suite.
Timing Issues - This is, in my opinion, the largest issue I’m facing. Deep Red is extremely essential in both installing and fully utilizing Caïssa programs. To make matters worse, Pawn doesn’t allow for searching the stack, unlike Djinn. This means that cards like Rook are extremely swingy, being amazing in the beginning, and near-useless as the game progresses unless you build your entire deck around derezzing.
The Wrong Faction? - I don’t see this new set as a whole working well either in conjunction or in lieu of viruses. Take Bishop, for example. While -2 str is nice, it only works on one piece of ice, and I see Datasuckers having far more usefulness. To use a full Caïssa suite, one is almost obligated to get rid of Imp, Parasite, and Datasucker, which I consider the bread-and-butter of the Anarch faction. I understand and appreciate that this is intended to be an alternative, but I don’t see it as an amazing one. For each Caïssa program, I can think of an Anarch card that does it better.
Where I do see Caïssa programs working is the individual pieces in certain builds. To do this however, one would typically have to make a very linear one-trick pony build, instead of a versatile build capable of going many directions. I think their intent with Caïssa was for having several options, but I can’t help but think Rook should go in a credit denial deck, and Bishop/Knight in a cheap to break deck. Hell, I think the only Caïssa program that Reina is well-suited for is Rook. For the rest, I think Whizzard is the better choice, and that’s kind of sad.