So, having played around with Kabonesa Wu it seems to me that she is a classic case of a mis-match between mechanics and flavour. Flavour-wise she is a daredevil runner, who likes to run often and run lean and mean. Mechanically, she is a repeatable program tutor.
Anyone who has ever played a CCG/LCG will tell you that tutor effects are at the heart of combo-wombo decks and repeatable card tutors that start in play are the rosetta stone of all combo-wombo decks. Thing about a combo-wombo runner is that you don’t run until you’re set up and maybe only 1-3 times in a game. Which is to say the opposite of Kabonesa Wu.
Which got me to wondering, what happened?
The funny thing is, all of Wu’s rig is on Mars. As is she according to flavour text. It’s not unknown for FFG to foreshadow identities in advance so maybe it was planned but it looks more like something happened which led to her being yanked from Mars at the last minute and revised for Africa.
When you look at her rig in Red Sands you can see a Wu-shaped hole.
- Daredevil: draw 2 cards when you start a run against a double-iced server.
- Lean and Mean: if you have 3 or fewer progams installed when you start a run, all your Icebreakers are +2 STR.
- Network exchange: penalty for installing multiple ICE on a server.
Cards which aren’t specifically her rig but seem mechanically linked
- Mad dash: take a risk
- Diana’s Hunt: mid-run free install when encountering ICE that ends with program being trashed after use.
What I infer from this is that Kabonesa’s ability may have read something like
The first time each turn you initiate a run against a server with at at least 2 ICE installed, you may search your deck for a program and install it. If this program is still installed at the end of turn, remove it from the game. Use this ability only if you have three or fewer programs installed.
Thing is I can see all sorts of variants of that being tried and rejected (on encountering Ice, on approaching unrezzed ice etc) until there’s a very late decision that this needs more testing. In the meantime, they’re designing Terminal Directive (which also seems to have had last minute changes), dealing with rotation, a revised core set and change of lead developer.
So she gets booted forwards into Kitara and eventually someone just gives up on clickless install for Wu and (I suspect accidentally) turns her into what is probably going to be the best non-running runner in Netrunner.
If you consider that Mars, Africa and Terminal Directive were probably built together then you have 2 shapers:
- Ayla: traditional durdle shaper
- Wu: run-based shaper.
At least that was probably meant to be the idea. What you have instead is two durdle runners.
Finally, Kitara has a bunch of shaper support for a run-based runner.
- Takobi, Cyberdelia and Upya reward repeated runs.
- Kongamoto may well have been a program until it fell victim to Wu abusing it
- Flame out is awesome in conjunction with Diana’s Hunt. Install for free, use for “free”, rinse and repeat or bounce with a Brahman.
Finally there are things like Kasi string which are neutral but fit the theme.
But the run-based shapers are Smoke, Jesminder and Nasir.
I don’t have any special insight into this; I was just curious. I’m not involved in playtesting and don’t know any playtesters. I will say though that I think, right now, Wu is one economy card away from becoming a busted runner analogue of CI.