A Study in Static is the fourth 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 (3 copies each of 20 different cards, for Netrunner). So, if you play Netrunner, what should you care about in here?
1. Weyland Wins The Data Pack (Part 1)
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the new Identity card is from Weyland and the faction picking up the new identity has tended to get a little extra juice. Weyland, however, accomplishes this without actually considering the new Identity, which isn’t nearly as good as the Core Set Weyland Identity. The new identity provides a recurring credit to advance ICE, but too much of the ICE that can be advanced is just bad, and the big cost of it is the clicks it takes to advance the ICE, not the creds.
Weyland makes up for it everywhere else, however, since Government Contracts is nuts – at the 5-for-3 sweet spot and with a great ability. Well, it’ll be nuts if Weyland ever does anything but tag ‘n’ bag (because tag ‘n’ bag tends to be more of a speed deck, it has less time to take advantage of the credits and cares less about scoring 3), but until then the ability to churn out constant extra credits is still very handy. Magnum Opus is considered one of the strongest cards in the game because it lets you generate 2 creds per click, and Government Contracts gives Weyland a version of that.
Another pickup for Weyland is Oversight AI. The potential in this Operation is pretty clear – play a big ICE, rez it for almost free, have a data fort (sorry, server) that’s invulnerable for a large chunk of the game. The obvious target is Archer, since Oversight AI waives the “forfeit an agenda” cost as well. A telegraphed Archer is less scary, because you’re never actually going to take out a program with it, but it’s still a pretty solid way of keeping the Runner out for a while. Hadrian’s Wall won’t be too shabby either. And if your game plan is to blitz to a couple of Scorched Earths, then there may not even be an end game where the Runner has trashed your fancy ICE after breaking through it once.
2. Weyland Wins The Data Pack (Part 2)
No, seriously, the Weyland stuff is this deep. Although the cards I’m referring to here only has green in the title, not on the border – Green Level Clearance, out of Haas-Bioroid. Some of a variation on Beanstalk Royalties, Green Level Clearance is an Operation: Transaction that generates 3 credits. However, while Beanstalk is free in terms of credits, Green Level Clearance is free in terms of cards – it costs one cred, but you draw a card as part of the effect.
So, here’s the first thing to remember – Green Level Clearance is worse than Beanstalk Royalties. Creds and cards both cost a click, and the Corp usually wants creds far more than it wants cards. In traditional card game fashion, the Runner tends to want lots of cards, which is why Diesel gets played out-of-faction all the time. The Corp, on the other hand, tends to marshal resources and shore up its board position more than it benefits from churning the deck (which will often just result in drawing more than you could ever pay for). Which is why the exact same effect on a Corp card, on Anonymous Tip, never gets played out-of-faction, and is really only handy in-faction because NBN is usually a combo deck.
So, for HB, Green Level Clearance is OK, but not spectacular. It has more of an impact in Weyland, however, because (1) it’s a Transaction (and only costs one influence), so Weyland gets an extra credit out of it and (2) the introduction of another credit-generating Transaction means that Weyland has the option of switching to an exclusively Operation-generated economy. And since Weyland is usually tag ‘n’ bagging, it gets more out of the extra card draw than HB does as well.
3. The Non-Criminal Runner Loses The Data Pack
The pickings are pretty slim for the Runner in A Study in Static. Neither Anarch nor Shaper picks up an in-faction card worth spending time on, leaving the primary Runner beneficiary of this Data Pack as the Criminal, who picks up two playable cards in Doppleganger and Crescentus. Doppleganger is in every way a direct competitor with the existing Criminal console – obviously any two consoles are in competition with each other, but these two both cost 3, both provide 1 MU, and both provide a benefit for making a successful run. It’s just down to whether you want another cred or another run, both of which are worth a click. Each has its advantages – the creds from Desperado are more reliable (you always want more creds), but the extra run provided by Doppleganger has more swing-for-the-fences potential.
Crescentus provides a second derez card for the Criminals, although this one only has an influence cost of 1, so it’s much more likely to see some use in other factions. Criminal not only gets the Crescentus without faction cost, but it also has some entertaining synergy with E3 Feedback Implants to let you break and derez even the mighty Janus.
That leaves Underworld Contact as the only other Runner card to be concerned with, and although it’s handy, it’s a bit overrated. Only Shaper can run it reliably, and even then you’re likely relying on hitting Rabbit Hole to bring Underworld Contact online. Kate has an advantage, but only if you’re also willing to run other +1 Link cards like Helpful AI or Dyson Memory Chip, which don’t seem super-popular. Although, unlike the Corp’s repeat credit-generators, Underworld Contacts can’t be trashed very easily, you really want a constant credit-drip card like Underworld Contacts to come online immediately, and in any given game there’s a good chance that Underworld Contacts won’t be able to do that.
4. OK, Bad Times for Jinteki As Well
Jinteki, widely considered the worst of the factions, did not get a lot of love here, as Bullfrog is sad and Dedicated Server is nothing to write home about. Both Hourglass and Uroboros could, in theory, serve a niche role in a Jinteki wide deck as a single ICE to drop on Archives to make sure the Runner doesn’t have a “free” run on a central server before sacking your remote servers, but at 2 faction cost each even that is a pretty underwhelming pickup.
5. Is False Lead A False Hope?
I’m in a distinct minority in being less-than-amazed by False Lead, because I’m not thrilled at scoring a pseudo-agenda now if the entire purpose of that agenda is going to be to let me score a real agenda later, which seems to be a lot of what people are looking at. However, this is yet another card to help out those Weyland tag ‘n’ bag decks – you don’t really care about forfeiting an agenda, and you’re aiming to throw away the False Lead at a time when the Runner just went home with a couple of tags, thus depriving him or her of the ability to shake them before Scorched Earth ends things. One could potentially use it to similar purpose in Jinteki, preventing a Runner who just got hacked for neural damage from using clicks to draw back up, and then finishing him or her off, but that kind of deck isn’t exactly the sort of threat that tag ‘n’ bag is. The point is, I see False Lead as something you want to include when it has a specific function, not just to randomly snatch a few clicks here or there.
A Study in Static provides a pretty heavy boost to Weyland, but is relatively stingy elsewhere, with entire factions shut out of in-faction cards of any note. With that said, it’s helpful to keep in mind that these things are only 20 cards, and they’re going to be churning out Data Packs for quite some time, so it’s actually a good thing that the cards in these early Data Packs aren’t universally exciting.