Hello, and welcome to another Hack the Planet. While this would normally be the week for a new Deck Diving, its decided to take a break for a little bit for the new year. It’ll be back eventually, once some new identities/deck ideas come out. Taking it’s place for a little bit: Card in Depth. Today we’ll be looking at Atman in depth.
What is Atman
Atman’s one of those AI breakers discussed last time: it can break any ICE regardless of the type. Instead it has a limiter based on its strength: where most breakers break based on having more strength, Atman looks for an exact match. The more ICE with the same strength, the better Atman is. Due to this and the explosion of Atman decks over the summer you saw a large diversification of ICE strengths as a counter to Atman.
So what makes Atman so important?
First off, as I mentioned, is the environment definition it performed: with the surge of popularity of Atman decks Corp decks needed to diversify their ICE offerings to defend themselves. Given the ease of building a deck around Atman, for a time this was the most popular Runner deck around: if you were unprepared for it you would lose to it. As I mentioned with the general AI article, AI breakers only need to see one copy to get into a given server: While it requires a little more setup than a Crypsis or Darwin deck, once Atman gets rolling it is hard to stop.
How to make an Atman Deck
One of the keys with Atman is varying its strength or that of the ICE so they match and you can get in. One of the best tools for this is the Datasucker, or as I like to think of it “most likely to get errata/restriction.” Datasucker, once preped, lets you modify the strength of the ICE you’re dealing with such that it matches an Atman you’ve already got out. Another helpful tool in the Atman deck is recycling the Atmen and bringing them into play mid-run so you know what strength value they need. Many tools help with this: Clone Chip, Scavenge or Self Modifying Code. All help you set Atman to the strength you need. Once you have all three Atmen in play with varying strengths and a Datasucker to deal with outliers you should be able to get into any server — assuming you can afford it.
How to break an Atman deck
So how does the Corp deal with Atman? As with most things, a combination of deck modification and playing around your opponent. Don’t stack one server with ICE of the same strength. (We’ve already covered varying the strengths of ICE in the deck.) After that is the standard phase 3 Corp game plan: slow the Runner down either by doing enough damage per run or making any given server too expensive that the Runner can’t afford to run every turn. In the prep part, when building your deck, you can add some meta ICE. Swordsman is the obvious answer since Atman can’t deal with him, but I’m also a fan of the Rototurret. It’s cheap, it stops, and if the Runner doesn’t have a 0 strength Atman there’s no way for him to deal with it: you can then kill Atman. And of course you can just not care: let the Runner into your servers, you’ll be nuking him from orbit regardless of how many points he may have stolen.
So that’s Atman. Hopefully you have a better idea of how it fits into the current environment and how it’s changed it. Feel free to let me know in the comments if there are any cards you’d like to see me give an in-depth analysis to going forward.