About two weeks ago, The Valley was released into retail. But the question remains: did the first data pack of the new cycle shake things up? Let’s take a look at the new digs of note:
CLOT: Where better to start than with what some assume will finally derail the Astro-Train. By Astro-Train, I am referring to Astroscript Pilot Program, which has remained one of the defining agendas in the game since the core set release.
Clot is one of two anti-Fast Advance tools out of The Valley—the other being Traffic Jam, which, while a neutral card at no influence, does not offer the same on-demand potential as this little virus. Prior to this data pack we had The Source, which proved a tad lackluster, and Chakana (also a virus), which found its way into a few viable decks.
For two credits (and two influence out of faction), Clot certainly can throw a wrench into a Fast Advance player’s plans by simply waiting for them to install and advance one counter shy of scoring. By using a Clone Chip or Self-Modifying Code, they can then install Clot, which will stop them from scoring out that turn, potentially leaving the agenda prone on the runner’s following turn.
Groupthink would have you believe that this card heralds the end of NBN Fast Advance and HB Biotic Labor, but I think it simply means that these decks will have to adapt to Clot. Anarchs and Shapers especially will be able to utilize Clot, but my prediction is it will be a strain for Criminals to import it and the other required tools, all of which cost substantial influence, to use the card effectively. Only time will tell, but still, Clot remains the card over which everyone is clamoring out of this data pack. In my humble opinion, having two cards that address Fast Advance in a single data pack feels like a bit of an over-correction, but welcome ones at that.
SYMMETRICAL VISAGE: The new card subtype “genetics” also makes its cameo in The Valley, touting a set of four different cards with Gene Conditioning Shoppe as an obvious support option. While cards like Adjusted Chronotype offer some interesting interactions with old standbys like Wyldeside, Symmetrical Visage stands out as a potential deck inclusion of the bunch.
Quite literally, Visage is a baby Professional Contacts, allowing you to gain 1 credits the first time you click to draw. But therein lies the rub: it works only once a turn (without the assistance of something like the aforementioned Chronotype). For factions like Anarch that don’t have as many click compression cards as, say, Shapers, Visage is a zero-influence way to kill two virtual birds with one digital stone. Is this card setting the world on fire? No. But having included a single copy in my own Noise deck, I can attest that it ain’t bad either.
JINTEKI BIOTECH: LIFE IMAGINED: Jinteki gets a couple interesting cards in The Valley, but namely their new ID—or, IDs, rather. Biotech introduces an entirely new mechanic: flipping. You see, the set of three ID cards for Biotech all have different backs. At the beginning of the game, after your opponent reveals their runner, you elect which version of Biotech you will be playing, the front of which is identical. It’s the back of the ID that will grant a single one-shot ability when the corp player spends 3 clicks to “flip” the card, like:
The Brewery deals 2 net damage, which could spell a flatline for a runner unfortunate enough to have a hand size of 1 or less.
The Tank shuffles your entire Archives back into R&D, spitting defiantly in the face of Noise and Keyhole-based strategies.
The Greenhouse allows you to place, boost an advanceable ice, what-have-you.
Some are quick to chalk Biotech up as nothing more than a gimmick, with some of these abilities better than others—I’m looking at you, Tank! The fact remains that versatility can and will win games.
CORTEX LOCK: Jinteki gains yet another net damage-doling weapon in Cortex Lock. Undeniably, this card is best in the early game as the runner is building out their rig. At 4 strength, Mimic alone just means you are taking one less damage by way of it using MU. Still, this remains a standout to me as a longtime Jinteki player as a cheap and efficient early game threat.
NEXT GOLD: In the last couple weeks, I have faced an alarming amount of Foundry decks. Why? Because of NEXT Gold. Like Cortex Lock, we have another 4 strength sentry capable of dealing net damage, except this one also trashes programs. The main differences here is its dependence on other NEXT ice, as well as being a hefty 8 credits to rez. Bronze and Silver are both more than viable cards, though they have implicit weaknesses to cards like Parasite. Yes, when this card hits, it hits hard, but the jury is still out as to whether or not this was the missing component to push the Foundry a tier higher in viability. After all, we are living in a world where Anarchs are more than on the up-and-up.
The Valley offers a more than substantial showing of solid cards beyond those mentioned above. As a player, I am stoked for what this cycle has in store. If you want more info on the contents of this data pack, head over to http://netrunnerdb.com/en/set/val OR just pick it up at a FLGS like the Game Preserve! Until next time, keep running those nets and hope to see you at our bi-weekly league!