Face-checking ice throughout a game can keep the corp running low on and provide valuable intel to the runner about the corps defenses. Alpha is an icebreaker built for face-checking.
Install cheaply: At 7 to install a limited AI such as Alpha might give pause, London Library allows Alpha to be installed free (temporarily) where it can then be trashed by the runner with Scavenge to cycle it on to the rig by sending it to the trash momentarily only to recur it thereafter, cost? 2 (not counting installation of London Library) net savings? 7 . (With a little less certainty Eureka! could possibly accomplish the same thing.) Alternatively Test Run with Scavenge could allow the runner to tutor for Alpha first, total cost? 2s & 3
Keep server on thin ice: So long as key servers are thinly defended Alpha can continue to be the go-to AI ice breaker. Forked, Knifed, Spooned & Parasite can certainly be used to remove layers of ice (in such cases the next ice is now the outermost ice! Alpha gets to play again!), additionally Forged Activation Orders, perhaps after Account Siphon or Emergency Shutdown to make the corp poor can also effectively remove yet more layers of ice.
(Did I miss something obvious, I'd appreciate suggestions in the comments below, I may add it to this review)
Face checking: Alpha an an AI ice breaker can help mitigate the problem of getting caught with an unbreakable ice sub-type. (When accessed effects still apply) This allows the runner to pursue an ice-rezzing to tax the corp strategy perhaps or simply gain information via probing etc.
Early game access: With Alpha out early, the corp faces the difficulty of having to create 2 layers of ice on each server (possibly both layers needing End the run's) before having any meaningful measure of security.
Cheaper ice-breaking: Particularly when facing sentry ice, Alpha can provide a more cost effecting breaking compared to many killer sub-type ice breakers.
End-Game Particularly mid-to-end game the corp will be able to deepen protection on servers diminishing the reach of Alpha
Cost: At 7, Alpha's cost is right up there with other heavy-hitters which given it's limited scope could make that cost a bit more difficult to swallow.
Alpha as an AI could potentially compliment a variety of decks and play styles. Every AI comes with it's trade-offs, Alpha's trade-off favors the early game and could certainly be used to full effect before the corp is able to fully defend it's servers. Still at 7 and 3 influence along with the likely hood of needing yet other AI's particularly for the late game gives many runners ample reason to look elsewhere.
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