The comparison to Clot doesn’t really hold up. Clot targets a very specific playstyle and can be a dead card. Film Critic is more versatile.
Currently the competitive meta can basically be broken down into HB:EtF, RP, NEH, Blue Sun and Everything Else. So let’s look at how Film Critic attacks the big 4.
HB:EtF is arguably the most resilient to Film Critic. But that’s because it’s running agendas that don’t protect themselves in the first place, which is a weakness of the deck. Its strength is its powerful economic engine along with effective glacier tools that allow the corp to stay ahead on money and threaten a scoring window when the runner burns through their cash on the efficient, taxing ICE suite. The deck doesn’t plan on punishing the Runner for their shenanigans, it simply makes it extremely difficult for them to have more than one attempt at an agenda before the corp scores it. Film Critic still isn’t dead because of NAPD Contracts, but it certainly isn’t as effective as it could be. That being said, it increases Runner efficiency against HB:EtF because they now don’t have to worry about having 4 credits left over when they manage to access.
RPs agenda suite suffers immensely from Film Critic. A large part of the power of the deck is that it is resilient to both single and multi-access, due to there being only three agendas that can be stolen outright. Combined with its ability to keep the Runner out of remotes and a suite of ICE that handily defend central servers and remotes, the few accesses that the Runner gets must be of high impact. NAPD and TFP both reduce the potential for those runs to be high impact because of their ability to shrug the Runner off. But Film Critic ignores that. If you access ANY agenda with Film Critic installed, then you can take it for the low low price of two clicks. And if you see more than one due to multi-access? Host them BOTH! The first agenda you hosted will go to their archives, ripe for the plucking (or at least forcing them to awkwardly use a Jackson).
NEH is primarily on the Butchershop plan these days. Film Critic handily turns off the Midseasons, since you aren’t stealing the agenda. That leaves Butchershop with the more awkward Breaking News kill, or to Fast Advance. The deck is very good however, and I expect it will likely just shift to a SEA Source variant. That does make the deck weaker to IHW and Plascrete, but as we’ve seen from Blue Sun kill decks recently, this can be played around. Film Critic hurts this deck a lot, but given enough time I expect it will recover. Perhaps not to its current power level, but still quite good.
Blue Sun kill decks are somewhat resilient to Film Critic, depending on how they go about their kill. Punitive Counterstrike is completely dead, as no points were stolen, but SEA Scorch has been quite popular and doesn’t suffer. Depending on deck construction, NAPD may be something that Film Critic works against.
As for everything else, well let’s have a look at what Film Critic works best against:
- The Future Perfect
- NAPD Contracts
- Fetal AI (still take two net damage)
- Punitive Counterstrike decks
- Midseasons decks
- Argus Security
- Jinteki: Personal Evolution
- New Angeles Sol
- Haarpsichord Studios
Huh. That’s actually not that bad, only three agendas, one of which still deals two net damage. Things like TGTBT, or agendas installed using Casting Call still have their effects trigger (since the runner HAS accessed). IGNORE THIS, it is incorrect. I blame too much playing of Magic for confusing me. Film Critic WILL stop things like TGTBT from firing.
It really sucks for Argus Security as it completely invalidates their ID. It takes away the primary sting from PE, negates NES’s ability to restore their current when it is trashed by the runner (but then again, their current won’t get trashed by the runner stealing an agenda, so…), and allows Runner’s to steal one agenda from Haarpsichord and host/trash any others.
So what’s bad about Film Critic? Well it costs a credit, so it’s not expensive. It costs one influence, so it’s easy to splash, or free if you’re in shaper. That last part is probably well designed, because Shaper really needs more support to make it good. It has the same inherent weaknesses that other resources do, but no other downsides. It does nothing if you’re not running and finding agendas, but if you’re not running you either have reasons or bigger problems to deal with, and it actually allows you to run more easily, since you don’t have to be afraid of Midseasons or Punitive.
So what is Film Critic? It’s pretty safe to say that it’s a “silver bullet” approach to the problem that is a meta chock full of RP and NEH. But is that a good thing? These decks have risen to prominence because it’s difficult for the Corp to be threatening anymore. ICE is little more than a speedbump, and for whatever reason, Runner’s have a much easier time of their economy than corporations do. Damn all that red tape. So corps have had to look for different ways to protect themselves: agendas that are hard to steal, cards that make it very difficult to see agendas, or punishing the Runner should they be in a precarious position when they steal an agenda.
How will corps respond to this? Nobody can say for sure, but it is somewhat polarising. By removing protection from agendas, it means that corps now have to make it difficult to see agendas, or punish the Runner for seeing them. Film critic helps to avoid punishment, but SEA Scorch is still a thing, and certain “when accessed” effects still occur. But that means that making it more difficult for the runner to see agendas is the best way for corps to defend themselves. ICE isn’t enough, unless you’re running IT Department with a lot of counters, and not every deck can durdle like that. So we’re left to rely on other cards, like Caprice and Ash.
I think Film Critic is a very good card. I think it would be better for the game if you had to spend two clicks and trash it to move the agenda into your score area. But then, I haven’t played with or against it yet. Maybe it will be fine, but with how low impact it is on both the Runner’s economy and deckbuilding, and how high a ceiling it has, I very much expect it to have a significant impact on the game.