Hack The Planet: Top Ten Pre-Spin Cycle

Hi Everybody! Welcome to another issue of Hack the Planet.

So, with the first pack of the Spin Cycle, appropriately named Opening Moves, starting to get into stores I thought I’d take one last look back at the Core Set, The Genesis Cycle and Creation And Control before we start moving into this new and exciting cycle.

As such, today I will list what are in my opinion the top ten cards in the game right now. Unlike some people I will not be looking at the flavor of the cards, but rather their impact on the game. Feel free to tell me how wrong I am in the comments! We’re not Pop Sci, we still have them!

Atta Boy! err… man!

1. Atman

Somewhere in there Runner decks became single breaker decks. (Hopefully this will end soon. A few previews I saw the other day give me some hope) And of the potential single breakers Atman is probably the most popular/most powerful. Decks are built around the general consistent values of ICE strength, especially on the low end, tricks to get the value of the ICE you’re seeing into your sweet spot, and ways of recurring the Atmen to react to a changing environment. Given its ability to break any type of ICE Atman allows you to search for one breaker to get Running instead of the full suite you should be hunting out. The strength and popularity of the Atman deck has had a major impact on the meta environment, including a huge diversification of ICE strength in many Corp decks (a problem for Corps since most still lack good options for flushing out a full ICE suite even at three-of).


Nuke them from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

2. Scorched Earth

Another meta setter. I don’t think a single Corp deck in the GenCon finals wasn’t trying to kill da Runner ♫ and this is the best way to accomplish it. The mere existence of this card forces the Runner to play their game differently for fear of a sudden loss. If the Runner gains a tag and has less than four cards in hand, you win the game. I’ve even seen this card in Jinteki as a finishing move, that’s how good it is. This is one of the very few 4 influence cards you’ll see actually get played out of faction. Its existence has also meant that any other tag based cards are harder to get off since the Runner has become allergic to tags for fear of losing the game for the privilege.


3. 2 point for 3 cost Agendas

I’m not calling out a specific Agenda at this price point. Rather, I’m calling out all of them: the existence of these Agendas is what fuels the fast advance strategy that is the next most popular Corp strategy. That said, Moon Laser Astroscript Pilot Program is amazing. Being able to score an on table Agenda without the Runner getting a crack at an advanced card, or even better scoring from hand via some sort of acceleration lets you score your Agendas while the Runner is forced to look for them in hand or deck, two places with low return on investment, especially if you’re planning for it and therefore ICE stacked nicely.


4. Datasucker

One of the prime fuels for Atman, Datasucker is legitimately a strong card on its own and it’s presence in these Atman decks really highlights that fact. Making ICE weaker is always good. The worst case scenario is that each token is worth 1 bit (your breaker pumps for 1 bit a pop) and even that case is amazing. In better scenarios Datasucker counters can allow you to break ICE you otherwise shouldn’t have. Often you can easily fuel it by hitting Archives. A smart Corp will therefore ICE Archives, meaning they now have less ICE for protecting the servers you actually want to get in to.


4. Yog.0

Oh, how the mighty have Fallen! Once this was *the* breaker, being free to operate and all. It’s still having an important effect on the environment, basically making any cheap code gates worthless. Anarch based single breaker decks still include a copy or two just due to the efficiency of running it against certain decks. And a non single breaker deck will almost certainly use Yog for its Decoder due to the low operating cost and low influence cost. Yog-o-saurus (combining Yog with Dinosaurus) breaks any code gate for free.



6. Trollbooth

The one code gate worth running in a Yog world. With Yog they can’t bypass and lose on three creds. With a boosted Yog/weakened ‘Booth it still costs three creds to pass. Any other breaker will cost much more than that to get past. While it’s expensive, for stopping power it’s still one of the best late game ICE.




7. Account Siphon

I’m sorry, were you using those credits?

Every Corp hates Account Siphon. You think you’ve got your game going, things are fine, and then suddenly you’re broke and the Runner has free rein on your servers. The giant swing of credits – 5 from Corp and 10 to Runner – can easily switch the game’s momentum in an instant. Especially given the “pay money to make money” that is most of this game’s economy, being bankrupt will likely last for a few turns in a row, especially since you’ll be needing to spend money bolstering your defenses as well. Siphon is only this low on the list because a. you only see it from Criminals due to its influence cost and b. due to a, it’s often semi-telegraphed and planned for. A good Corp player against Crim will ICE their hand up and make it difficult for an Account Siphon to go off. This of course makes it all the more devastating out of faction.



8. Melange Mining Corp

*The* Corp money card. Nicknamed “The Stupid Button” for good reason. If the Corp is allowed a few turns with Melange out it will likely make their economy for the entire game. And make no mistake, one of the primary aspects of this game is the economy: if yours is humming and the opponent’s is not you’re likely to win the game. While it takes your whole turn to use and is easy to trash for the Runner, the more than doubling efficiency of your bit gains more than makes up for it.



9. Parasite

There is very little that can trash ICE for the Runner. That’s because it’s such a strong ability. Combined with many other cards like Datasucker you can easily take out ICE that’s in your way. Of course, even if the Corp purges constantly so you never kill the ICE, the lowering of ICE strength is a good thing. As I mentioned in Datasucker, at worst it’s a free credit per counter. Two turns of Parasite can turn a Tollbooth into Yog food. If you put it onto an ICE that the Corp wants to keep such that they’re purging Virus counters with enough regularity to keep it up you’ve now played a card to make the Corp forfeit their turn.


10. Hedge Fund/ Sure Gamble

Two sides of the same coin. I still contend that this is the card for which you need a copy of the core set per deck you want unproxyed. The sudden burst of four credits for one action is one of the most efficient burst economy cards in the game.


Honorable Mentions:

Diesel: The Runner needs cards. Diesel gives cards. Not on the list as there’s now more options for cards such as Professional Contacts, Quality Time or Mr Li making Diesel less important.

Snare! The trap. No need to advance. Can hit from deck or hand. Does enough damage to potentially kill, especially if the Runner’s been softened up. Not on the list as it needs help to be a killer, and due to being a trap you can’t savor it for when the Runner’s card light to kill them like you can with Scorched.

Ice Wall: A cheap ICE that can be boosted late game to keep providing protection. Not on the list as boosting requires major investment and without it’s fairly thin ICE.

So, there’s my top ten! what are yours?

Happy Hacking!

2 thoughts on “Hack The Planet: Top Ten Pre-Spin Cycle

  1. I reckon the list is missing a few cards like Emergency Shutdown, Self-Modifying Code,… I would probably include Darwin alongside Atman as a potent / environment shaping card myself. Needs support as much as Atman decks do, just in different ways. Professional Contacts can probably be said to alter the way that the Runner economy operates and so does Kati Jones, I think.
    Locally, at least, Viper and then Eli created a shift in the meta that responded to Emergency Shutdown by moving from the big ice to the cheap effective stuff. Perhaps not the mot powerful of cards but still shaping the nature of the environment, in some ways.

    1. Let’s see… first, you’re right, I should’ve found room for self modifying code. mea culpa. Also, the Atman entry could’ve easily been AI breakers. As to Runner economy, while it could’ve found an entry with the cards you named, I feel like the Runner economy is sufficiently diverse that any one piece of it (other than the staple sure gamble) doesn’t make it on it’s own and 2 for 3s was pushing the idea of a top ten list as it was.
      While Shutdown was huge when it first dropped, and still strong now, it’s since been overshadowed by other cards while the ICE choices these days I feel are more based around Atman and the need to diversify than Shutdown’s cheap pressure. ymmv.

      Anywho, that’s why I made the picks I did. Thanks for the feedback!

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