Hello, and welcome to another analysis of the Post Genesis Cycle environment of Netrunner. Today you get three factions: HB, Weyland and Criminal.
First is HB. The most likely to change of these three since it’s featured in the upcoming box set Creation and Control, HB doesn’t really need the attention. It’s arguably the strongest Corp at the moment due to a strong economy and strong ICE both being in faction.
The Bioroid ICE often has the click to break weakness (the Runner can use their clicks to break the subroutines instead of ICE breakers) which is more than compensated by the ICE with said weakness being very strong ICE. Layer up two or three and they’ll be out of clicks long before they get through. Further, it’s often better for the Runner to use cash to break instead of their precious clicks, though that’s obviously more dependent on game state than anything else. HB also has the only ICE that can do brain damage, and yes it’s expensive but the fear factor alone against most Runners is worth it. Finally on ICE, HB has one of my two favorite port-in ICE: Rototurret. While cheap to break with a sentry breaker, if the Runner foolishly faceplants into it without one you can easily do major damage to their rig, sometimes irrecoverably.
As for their economy, the base set identity alone provides a healthy credit stream through out the game. Add in naked men or women and you can easily get a very strong drip economy going.
For Agendas, not only does HB find itself with two 2 point for 3 cost Agendas, the sweet spot for an Agenda, they also have access to Mandatory Upgrades, which can drastically change a game when scored. Increasing your turn by 33% is huge in a game of efficiency, plus it lets you do silly things like install Melange and use it that turn. While not an agenda, Aggressive Secretary plays similarly to one, and if played correctly can win you a game just as easily. Take out the key breaker (or two or stupid button) and the Runner may find themselves completely shut out of your advancement fort.
HB final score: 9 cost ICE.
Everyone’s favorite orbit nuking faction, Weyland is also a contender for top Corp at the moment. Not only do they have the orbit nuking option in faction, but their operation based economy can give HB’s asset based one a run for its money. Plus, operation money doesn’t require protection.
Their base set identity has obvious economic advantages, if few cards to activate it. Their newer identity similarly suffers from a lack of usable cards to boost, though the two boostable barriers are very strong and can easily keep Runners out even without boosting.
Both identities can pull from some good ICE, though none as good as HB’s. Ice and Hadrian’s Walls can keep Runners out fairly well – in fact Hadrian’s has some of the best Runner stopping power outside Tollbooth – though neither has quite the shocking power of an Archer. As long as you can throw an Agenda to it (and Weyland has some nice 1 pointers to do the honors) Archie can just plain win the game with its two program kill subs and a high strength making it expensive to bust.
On Agendas, Weyland has some really strong options. Government Contracts, when scored, gives you an amazing economy for the rest of the game. Project Atlas on the other hand, if scored with counters, can easily let you get everything else you’ll need to tie up the game.
Weyland can easily make a fast advance, ICE fort, or Tag and Bag deck. With those options available it’s not hard to keep the Runner off-balance, unsure of how best to handle your deck. Just importing a single Data Raven into a fast advance or ICE fort deck can leave the Runner balking all day. And of course, if they call your bluff, you should have the nukes in anyway to back up the threat.
Weyland final score: 8 meat damage to the Runner
Criminals probably are the best Runner at the moment. They can put the pressure on early and keep it high all game. A poorly defended HQ will give either Criminal a smorgasbord of event options. Based on entirely Operations I’ve seen a lucky Criminal win without bothering to drop a single breaker.
And that is the main strength of the Criminals. Account Siphon, Emergency Shutdown, Forged Activation Orders, Inside Job. A poor Corp is a losing Corp and that’s what Criminals do best. Further, with Easy Mark, Gabe, Desperado, Account Siphon, and other similar cards the Criminal can easily keep themselves rich at the same time.
Which is good, since outside the Sentry breakers their breaker suite is horrible. You will want to import gate and barrier breakers from other factions. But that’s what influence points are for.
Also helping the Criminals is their meta options. Especially against Tag & Bag, Criminals have in faction some of the best meta choices for the Runner in the game, able to avoid the tags, weaken the bags, completely invalidate bioroids (e3 feedback), or spy for traps.
Criminal final score: 10 credit gain from Account Siphon
So that’s my assessment of the current state of these three factions. Tell me how wrong I am in the comments below.