Second Thoughts Set Review Part 1: In which I misspell Scheherazade repeatedly!

Originally published at: Second Thoughts Set Review Part 1: In which I misspell Scheherazade repeatedly! - StimHack

Second Thoughts Review: Part 1: Runner Cards   Once again, I’m going to give a rating from 0 to 5 for each card.   5: Best of the best.  Game defining cards.  Ex: Account Siphon, SanSan City Grid. 4: Strong staples.  You want it in most decks of this faction and many decks of another faction.   (Alternately, it might be a key engine for a particular Archetype).   Ex: Corroder, Ice Wall, Professional Contacts. 3: Playable cards.  It might make the cut, or be good situationally, or in the right deck.  Not universally useful but still played a reasonable…

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Nice write-up Alex, as ever. A few comments / discussion points:

Copycat: I don’t think this is a 3. Firstly, most people’s ICE portfolio is diversifying in response to Atman. Secondly, it not only requires the Corp to have duplicate ICE, but they must also have them both in play, rezzed and in useful positions for this card to have any impact. Not to mention that if you play the Copycat early the Corp will never place his ICE as you would wish so you must retain it until you want to use it, which makes it vulnerable to damage etc. That’s just too situational unless you’re manipulating the ICE, but now we’re talking combos and, to be honest, if you’re pulling off a successful Escher you don’t need Copycat. For me this is probably a 1.
Maybe it has a place in certain Exile or Professor decks, where you’re using it as income with FCC and installing it from the trash when it becomes relevant.

Leviathan: I’m certainly not going to defend this card as it is terrible at the moment, but I’m going to play Devil’s advocate. Supposing NEXT ICE all key off one another? Adding subroutines and strength to each other and such like. Your solutions to big ICE are entirely valid in the current environment, but they are limited in the sense that Femme only gets you around one piece and Atman/FSBs + Datasucker work only if you can accrue enough sucker counters. If the Corp has access to numerous, cheap ICE that collectively become powerhouses it could be a game-changer.

Eureka & Record Reconstructor: I think these are just the beginning of something bigger.

Hard at Work: I’m almost certain that this is going to be a part of a new archetype in the future. FFG are not unknown for making bad cards deliberately, but it strikes me as a bit strange that they would make one this bad and use it as one of the pre-release spoilers if it wasn’t going to cause a stir in the future. Maybe not in this set, but perhaps in the Anarch deluxe box. I would anticipate seeing something that triggers off losing clicks (or something to prevent the loss) as well as some tech to get resources into play more cheaply. If this doesn’t become the new Anarch USP then it’s difficult to see where they go next - Their IDs are really struggling at the moment, yet their cards are the most popular splash.

I would pretty much agree with your overall assessments for the current environment though, with the exception of Copycat.

Thanks for the article, Alex! Pretty spot on, even though I wish Leviathan was a better card so you wouldn’t have to diss it : p

Arkhon, you make an excellent point about future ICE that I hadn’t thought about, very insightful.

Expensive breakers are way more limited, in that you cant afford to use them many times. The best solution to large ice are always going to be whatever tricks let you solve them for relatively cheap.

Also, the best solution to lots of Next Ice pumping each other is going to be repeatedly parasiting them away so they stay small.

Hard at Work: I’m almost certain that this is going to be a part of a new archetype in the future.

I’m almost certain that people who think that are bad. :smile:

Haha yeah possibly. It just makes no sense to me otherwise though - anarchs have nothing and it’s such a comically bad card that I feel there must be a plan behind it.
I mean, they could have made it cost quite a bit less and it would still have been crap, but they didn’t. Why?

Also, agreed re: ice destruction.

Because they just make some bad cards, with no plan to make them ever become good?
Because it makes people spend a lot of time discussing the cards, because some people are like: “omg its so terrible”, which then causes bad players to come to the card’s defense, an try to make it the basis of a deck.

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I think you might be being a bit harsh on Recon; the card is eclipsed in most situations by FAO, but it does keep you running, which is great. I have a hard time hating on any crim card with that sort of low cost that has “make a run” on it. The number of painful facecheck ICE is bound to increase, and this is a nice way to deal with it. Great against Jinteki, hitting a first turn Katana is annoying to say the least. Reminds me of good old Dropp from the original Netrunner; that card was bonkers good early, especially against the painful ICE that was around back then.

So no master plan then? That’s a shame.
I wasn’t defending the card in its current state, it clearly is utterly useless (to everyone other than Kroen on BGG); it was more speculation that the click sacrifice might become a supported mechanic for Anarchs - especially with cards like Savoir Faire on the horizon which allow the runner to take certain normal actions without spending clicks.

Oh also, anyone else having trouble getting to this thread?
I can’t find it in the forum list, I can only get to it from the link in the article.

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any good CT players here?

How about now? I think I fixed the problem.

You definitely convinced me about Scheherazade… I was on the fence about the vulnerability programs hosted on it but your point about how you can use it with temporary programs like SMC, Faerie, and Test Run etc. pushes it over the top for me. Plus you basically never run mid game without a way to deal with a surprise program trashing sentry so I don’t know that it’s really that vulnerable to put icebreakers on it anyway. A few test games with it added to my Professor deck have indicated its as strong for him as you suggest… a second place MVP to Sahasrara for awesome programs I can’t pronounce or spell without Google.

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It seems a lot of people on Reddit take issue with your tone. I just wanted to drop a note of support - I love your articles! If I do happen to disagree with your rating of a card, that’s fine. I simply think you’re wrong in that one instance, and can still take the rest of the insight.

Even if you can come off a touch overconfident, I personally don’t think it crosses the line into complete brash arrogance. Keep on rocking these articles!


Just remembered that Power Shutdown is coming in the next pack… which will trash Scheherazade for 1 credit and no cards milled, so I guess I better get used to keeping icebreakers off it after all.

Glad you like the articles Jozrael. :smile:

Yeah, they cant handle the idea that any card is bad. They think every card must be a special snowflake with a purpose. But FFG doesn’t design every card to be tournament viable. They also design cards like Hard at Work, which was a successful design, given the number of people discussing making a deck where you lose 5+ clicks a turn. And also, the Hard at Work, Joshua B, NACH “combo”.

@Jozrael The tone people take exception to are the ones like this. This quote wasn’t necessary; the meta level thinking that @Arkhon is indicating as the source of his tingly feeling that Hard at Work might actually be functional is related to the quality of work that FFG has done with the game, a bias toward believing that the team are all competent game designers, and an attempt to reconcile the cognitive dissonance that printing a bad card seems to be incongruous with maintaining the quality level of work we now expect. Alex certainly has a plausible explanation as to why they would do this that allows for reaching that reconciliation, but even if he is right, it only means that @Arkhon might be ignorant about one aspect of LCG/CCG card game design that has nothing to do with his Netrunner skill, so implying he’s bad is a pretty ridiculous conclusion to the conversation.

All of that said!

Alex did a fantastic job of avoiding all of that in this article, and in my opinion, he’s done a crack job of teasing out all the details of how they work and explaining which ones are good and bad in very objective terms. This was by far and away the best data pack review I’ve seen so far from anyone. Alex, I really think it would be hard to set the bar higher than this one, tone and all. Exceptional work!

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There is sometimes intent by the designers to create a bad card.

Other times, designers are wrong about how strong a card is, resulting in costing it such that it becomes too weak or too strong. (And erring on the side of too weak is a good thing!)

Other times, something is tested at a certain cost, and is felt to be too strong, and then it is overnerfed.

Some people seem to buy into the fallacy that most cards will get better over time (as new things that combo with them are printed), and they infer that if a card is particularly bad, that FFG designers have extra special things coming to make them get better.

But really, most cards get worse over time. A lucky few get better. But most of the ones that arent tourney-strength get more and more outclasses, and sometimes the tourney viable ones get replaced by new things.

This is definitely true, but I have heard both Damon and Lukas tell me/groups I was in directly that “not all cards can/will be good by design”. So I don’t think it is impossible to hold both opinion a) that FFG has done a cracking good job on this design and we can trust that they’ll fill out seemingly weak interactions down the line; and also opinion b) that certain cards simply aren’t good, either now or potentially forever.

I’d love to be surprised, somewhere down the line, that there is a good niche for Peacock and Leviathan and that Hard at Work will somehow justify it’s steep install cost. But we should totally judge cards based on their current utility :).

On the topic at hand, thanks for putting your thoughts together, @Alexfrog . Prepaid VoicePAD is a card that I have really tried to love but just can’t seem to realistically find enough synergy to pay off the install/deckspace cost.

FFG is making cards for more than just people who want to win playmats, and I believe Damon Stone said as much in that Team Covenant interview at Gencon. Tonight I watched somebody play an NBN The World is Snakes deck where they just wanted to see if they could win with only snake themed ice. Surely somebody will also construct a deck trying to have a completely automated turn just because they think it’s funny and those people buy cards too. At the same time it’s completely fair to judge cards on their ability to help you win several rounds of Swiss on any given day and ignore all other considerations.