Review – Future Proof (Netrunner)

                Future Proof is the sixth (and final) installment of the initial cycle of Data Packs (the Genesis Cycle) for Fantasy Flight’s Android: Netrunner LCG. As with all the standard LCG packs, it’s $15 and contains a full playset of the cards within (for Netrunner, 3 copies each of 20 different cards). We already know that Future Proof will, sadly, not future proof your decks, but what should you be looking out for in the June Regionals?

1.            Haas-Bioroid Is Less Vulnerable To Yog (And Other Corps Can Be Too)

Yog.0 is, so far as I can tell, in every single Runner deck ever. This means that if your deck has a decent number of cheap Code Gates, there are more times than you might like that Yog.0 will drop and invalidate multiple pieces of ICE at once. Every deck wants a solid number of cheap ICE in hopes of securing both R&D and HQ on the first turn, and so “traditional” HB decks (that is, not the Trick of Light fast advance decks) could easily find themselves wanting to run both Viktor 1.0 and Enigma – except that Yog.0 eats them both alive. Along comes Eli 1.0, performing the same basic function as Viktor (3-cost stopper ICE with the usual Bioroid vulnerability), but immune to that nasty, nasty Yog.0. I had moved Viktor out of my HB deck because of the Yog.0 vulnerability, and I’ll be very happy to make a place for Eli 1.0 to serve the role Viktor used to. Yog.0 is that common, and that good. And at 1 cost, it can even pull duty out-of-faction (in Jinteki Wide, for example, where they can’t just click past Eli).

2.            NBN’s Least Import New Card Is The Identity

OK, OK, that’s the sort of bold header that can come back to bite a fellow, but hear me out … first, although it’s basically just worst than AstroScript Pilot Program, Project Beale is important because 3-for-2 Agendas are just that good. And with the likes of those AstroScripts and SanSan City Grid, NBN already has several tools to fast advance its way into a scored Project Beale in only one turn. Flare is also pretty sexy, with an awful lot of punch being packed into that one subroutine, including (if I’m counting correctly) only the second way for the Corp to trash a piece of hardware. To me the primary drawback of Flare is that it’s competing with possibly the best large ICE in the game, Tollbooth. They’re about the same cost to break, and Flare hits way harder, but a lot of what makes Tollbooth so good is that it drains creds from the Runner even when he or she can break it (there’s also the chance that a Link-heavy Shaper can just skip trying to break Flare and beat the Trace). Still, second place to Tollbooth is hardly a condemnation – although at 3 influence cost, you won’t be seeing Flare out of faction anytime soon.

Which leaves The World Is Yours* (* some of the best flavor text ever), which has failed to impress me. A maximum hand size boost is something, making it harder for the Runner to grab the Agenda that’s stuck in your hand mid-game. The reduced deck size is better, just letting you scrap the five worst cards from your deck while keeping the same Agenda ratio. But then what The World Is Yours gives in deck quality, it takes away, stripping three precious influence. Of course, if your plan is still just to hit the Runner with double Scorched Earth, then 12 influence is enough for a playset, and that’s five fewer chances to draw cards other than SEA Source or Scorched Earth (although it’s a more expensive SEA Source, since you lose the free bits for the trace). That’s just not too impressive an improvement to me.

3.            Shaper Will Be Coming At Your Deck Less … and That Should Make You Afraid

The Shapers pick up three cards in Future Proof, and all of them focus exclusively on R&D. But they can all result in fewer runs on R&D by giving the Runner advance notice of what’s coming up, letting him or her avoid paying for the privilege of looking at your upcoming ICE. The nastiest of these is R&D Interface – during our audio review of Humanity’s Shadow, we talked about how a version of HQ Interface for the deck would be so much better and, lo and behold, here it is (and for the same cred cost). Being able to pressure R&D is vital to almost any Runner deck, but it can result in a lot of creds expended for nothing and is, obviously, pretty random if you aren’t doing it every turn. But R&D Interface helps out no matter what stage your in. Only getting occasional runs into R&D? R&D Interface will give you double bang for your buck. Have the ability to run into R&D every turn? R&D Interface will let you know when you’d be wasting your time, or will force the Corp to expend clicks on card draw to get around your foresight (and if they do draw cards then, hey, R&D Interface goes back to letting you look at twice as many cards). Oh, and for the cherry on top, multiple copies of R&D Interface stack.

Shaper’s other toys – Indexing and Deep Thought – would seem more impressive if R&D Interface wasn’t already around. Both are similar in their most routine usages – telling you when it’s worth your while to run on R&D in the future. Deep Thought (when not tucked into a Djinn) eats up one of your precious MU, but after a few turns of those hit-or-miss R&D runs, will give you perfect knowledge of when to make more in the future – or, more likely, forces the Corp to stop and purge. Since you’re probably going to need to keep running anyway after Deep Thought loses its virus counters, I’d rather just keep my MU free and stick with R&D Interface. Likewise, Index is harder to justify if you can play with R&D Interface as well – setting up for when you need to make your next R&D run is handy, but that’s less information gained if you already had the Interface working. And if you know you’re going to kick yourself the first time you Index and find an Agenda on top.

Still, all of these give the Shapers new ways to pressure R&D better by being more efficient in the use of R&D runs – they’ll come at you less, but hurt you more.

4.            New Ways to Address Tagging

Sometimes tags are the scariest thing in the world – that horrifying little chip on the table that means the Corp is about the call in an orbital strike. And sometimes you can go an entire game with half a dozen tags and it doesn’t matter at all. Future Proof brings two cards to address that situation. For the first there’s New Angeles City Hall, an underrated little gem. New Angeles City Hall joins Decoy as a handy way to protect yourself from SEA Source. Aside from its lack of influence cost, New Angeles will frequently be a worse way of addressing that situation, since the Corp can sit on the combo kill until New Angeles trashes itself. What New Angeles is much better at, however, is protecting you from your own tags. You wanted a way to turn Joshua B. into an extra click a turn? City Hall is there for you. Account Siphon left you with lots of credits but not so many clicks? City Hall is there for you. It’s a pretty handy card to have around. Just don’t let yourself get a tag, because then the City Hall is going to get razed …

… much like what will happen to Data Leak Reversal right after you play it. Data Leak Reversal might as well say “Spends two clicks. Trash the top 2 cards of R&D. The Corp loses a click and 2 creds. May not be played against a Weyland or NBN identity with 10+ creds available.” While I come to sing the praises of New Angeles, I come to dampen expectations on Data Leak Reversal. Yes, if it ever stuck around for a few turns, it would be bonkers. And when you play it, even if it gets trashed right away, that’s a very handy little effect for the cost of a few clicks. But it’s never going to stick around for a few turns. And there are going to be games where it’s dead weight (because you don’t get tagged, or because you can’t afford to pass the turn tagged), so it had better be pretty efficient when you do get to use it. I’m not saying DLR is a bad card, but I’ve seen some hyperventilating about how over-the-top good it is, and I don’t think the card supports that much hype.

Verdict

Future Proof provides playable cards for every single faction (that includes Mr. Li, Midori, and Dedicated Response Team, for the factions I didn’t mention earlier, with Mr. Li being my personal favorite of those three), and that’s pretty impressive for a 20-card Data Pack. Looks like  success to me.

3 thoughts on “Review – Future Proof (Netrunner)

  1. Y’know, from a purely thematic perspective, I’d love to see more Shaper-based virus stuff. Just from how they’ve been described, I can totally see a Shaper Runner having a virtual petri dish full of weirdness and AIs and weird AIs.

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