NBN: Controlling the Message

NBN: Controlling the Message

Identity: Megacorp
Deck size: 45 • Influence: 12

The first time the Runner trashes an installed Corp card each turn, you may trace[4]. If successful, give the Runner 1 tag (cannot be avoided).

Decklists with this card

23 Seconds (23s)

#17 • English
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23 Seconds
  • Updated 2024-05-17

    UFAQ [Damon Stone]

    If the Runner trashes more than one Corp card at the same time, such as with Apocalypse, how many traces does Controlling the Message initiate?


    If the Runner plays Apocalypse and Aryabhata Tech Tech trigger?

    No. Controlling the Message triggers off of the Runner trashing the installed Corp cards, and only abilities on active cards can trigger.


I've played quite a few games with this ID this month, and it behaves much differently than I thought it would. Another reviewer likens it to Argus Security: Protection Guaranteed, but that's not quite right, as the runner can multiaccess with impunity. It really behaves more like a yellow Industrial Genomics: Growing Solutions, but arguably with a more potent ability. Whereas IG requires a single scary run on Archives if you want to trash their cards, CtM's ability can't be turned off (except with Employee Strike, of course!). While IG makes trashing things a puzzle, CtM makes trashing things totally unpleasant, all the time.

The net result is that your ability might only fire 1-2 times per game! And that's great, because it means the runner isn't trashing your SanSan City Grid, Red Herrings, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Product Placement, or Prisec. Your PAD Campaign and Launch Campaign can sit rezzed with impunty. Let them check an installed Mumbad Virtual Tour, forcing them to spend 5 to trash it, and then endure the trace.

You can look at the ability as "the runner must spend 1 click and 2 creds to trash the first installed card each turn," but there are ways to severely change the math here. Add as many Aryabhata Tech to the deck as you can fit, which will make the runner seriously question whether the severe credit swing and loss of a click are really worth it. Capitalize on other powerful traces: Gutenberg, Bernice Mai, Hard-Hitting News, and Hatchet Job can all synergize with the Aryabhatas (that aren't unique!). If you have space, try a copy of Manhunt: a zero-link runner will have to spend 10 creds to trash a PAD campaign and avoid tags. Primary Transmission Dish can add some oomph to your traces, but I have never rezzed it unless the runner had at least 2 link.

All in all, NBN: Controlling the Message feels like the "true" NBN control ID. Spark's ability is great in the early game, but if the runner can stay above 5 credits, it loses its sting. Harishchandra is fun and is better for landing kills, but CtM really helps you control the flow of the game and the runner's choices by imposing extreme consequences for runs.

(23 Seconds era)

At first I was skeptical of its potential, since a high-link runner can completely negate its ability. But then I realized that Whizzard doesn't run link, ever, and most runners don't run both link and trash-assist. So effectively, either the trash costs matter, or the traces matter. Either way, it protects your assets and upgrades.

The best part is that you barely need to change your deck at all for it to be effective. You're NBN, you were going to run tag-punishment anyway. You don't need any credits for it to fire. You don't need to dump cards into Archives like IG. You have an approximate 3 credit tax, instead of Gagarin's 1.

The political assets (Sensie Actors Union, Commercial Bankers Group, Clone Suffrage Movement, and Bio-Ethics Association) obviously benefit the most from this tax. Bio-Ethics is weak, because you're probably not focused on damage, but the other three are fantastic. Sensie is practically mandatory since it costs no influence.

Playing against it, three of the best cards are Salsette Slums, Employee Strike, and Apocalypse. Slums bypasses the "trash" part of trashing cards, so the ID's ability doesn't trigger. ES nullifies the ability (although a Breaking News can end the current easily.) Apocalypse blows everything up, only triggering the ability once.

(23 Seconds era)

Does it bother anyone else as much as it does me that this ID is basically worse in every way than Argus Security: Protection Guaranteed but carving out a brand hew meta because of NBN's card pool? I know the card pools are different, but this is just an astronomical split. Argus Security: Protection Guaranteed almost always forces your opponent to take and then clear the tag instead of suffering a dreaded 2 meat damage, while NBN: Controlling the Message forces a trace thus creating the potential for a tag, and paying for the privilege of this diminutive version of Argus Security: Protection Guaranteed's power with a hit to their available influence.

I know the card pools are different and blah blah blah but this is the sort of card that would cause uproar under any normal circumstance, NBN players rightfully complaining that they've been given a card that's strictly worse than an existing one However, that card has become a defining force in the meta

(23 Seconds era)
There is a huge difference between triggering on the runner trashing an installed card or stealing an agenda. Apples and oranges. —
The difference between the two isn't apples and oranges. It is apples and asparagus. They aren't even both fruit. The NBN says that you can't get rid of assets or upgrades without being ready to take a tag or pay even more than the trash cost. The Argus one says you have to be ready with two cards to sacrifice if you need to run last click and you plan to steal. —
And Argus has a huge enemy in a very cheap, popular runner card - Film Critic. This id is not a fan of Whizzard or Nexus Sunny/Kate. —
This ID is crazy good in my opinion. As long as you aren't facing one of the a fore mentioned runners, you will probably be giving the runner a very hard time. This by either keeping up a monster economy as they leave your assets alone or by forcing them to trash dangerous ones. I'm glad it has less than normal influence, though I'd of liked to see 10. —
And Whizzard goes Boom. —