Program: Icebreaker - Decoder • Install: 2 • Memory: 1 • Strength: 2 • Influence: 3

1: Break code gate subroutine.

2: +4 strength for the remainder of this run. Use this ability only by spending at least 1 credit from a stealth card.

My brain is the key that sets my mind free.
Shaper • Galen Dara • Escalation 45
Links: Decklists | ANCUR

Refractor made better or not ? Let's compare...

  • Install cost : 1 more than Refactor. Not a big deal.

  • Pump cost : 1 more too, but +4 strength instead of +3. Notice how it fits against the brand new code-gate terror. That 1 needed don't have to come from a stealth card to reach its 6 strength. Though, it doesn't do better against the other painful code gate coming in this data pack (Fairchild 3.0, which strangely doesn't have a registered hyperlink as I write this review), neither to the yet to come Mausolus. Against 7+ strength code gates, Refractor rejoices again : 2 stealth vs 2 stealth +2. Little Engine and Wormhole see some plays.

  • Keep the strength pump until the end of the run, so if you encounter 2 or more code gate with strength in a range between 3 and 6 included, it's better than Refractor since it demands only 1 stealth instead of 2. Hopefully, you won't see 7+ strength pieces of ice stacking on one server.

So it's only better than Refractor in some corner cases : in a meta full of 3+ strength code gates, or where DNA Tracker and Archangel are heavily expected.

A note on which Runner can use it at best :

  • Smoke : being released in the same cycle, it is lore-wise her decoder. She can use both Houdini and Refractor at full power without support, but the cost of Houdini over Refractor can be quickly sensitive, while Refractor make you run the risk of being stuck of an heavy coded server. That said... I'd pick Refractor for her, and keep away from any Jinteki unrezzed ice if the corp have 8 or more and don't have any other stealth provider on my rig.

  • Kit : she has more chance to encounter more than 1 code gate per run than anyone. She loves Lockpick more than anyone, too. While it's unlikely she'll overturn her lack of influence with this single card, I feel she'll make the best use for it.

  • Kate : there are some good stealth builds with Kate, but she's the more prone to be stuck out of a coded server. Still she's good at money, so the over cost of Houdini may be less of a problem. Houdini for her, or make room for one of each ?

  • Other shapers : it's late, my eyelids fall.

  • Out of faction : you love jank, don't you ?

So have I answered to the question I asked in the first sentence of this review ? Well, let's consider the illustration : Houdini, definitively !

i would argue that houdini fits much better lorewise with kit. the flavor text is something a transhumanist would say. —
@TKO : I didn't pay attention to that. After reading it, I was wondering if it wasn't some lyrics of an Arcade Fire song or something, but a Google search says it's (almost) a quotation from Harry Houdini :) —
Smoke's theme is magic and both this and Blackstone are named after famous magicians. The flavour text is actually Houdini's mantra. —
Funny that not only are they named after magicians but specifically magicians named Harry. —
I predict that the next killer for shapers will be named 'Dante' after Harry August Jansen's moniker. —
Missed one very important interaction in Enigma. Cost's Houdini 2 cred no stealth to break and Refractor 1 stealth + 2 creds. Enigma is an extremely common cheap early gear check with some bite to it. It's fairly close between Houdini/Refractor in my opinion but Houdini wins in the current meta. On know the meta last 3 aggregated Archangel is the most common codegate with Enigma 4th and Crick 8th whilst neutral Pop up window/essentially neutral Quandry are 2nd/5th. In refractors favour is Tollbooth 3rd, Turing 5th, Lotus field 6th and little engine 8th. Worth noting that Turing/Lotus/Engine combined are less likely to be seen than Enigma nevermind Archangel. Couple this with the fact that efficiency against Enigma involving no need for a stealth credit is much more important in terms of early pressure/tempo than any other efficency. All the common refractor strong ice are relatively expensive rezzes compared to the neutrals and crick/enigma. Regardless Turing can be clicked through and stealth has a great match up vs HB. Little Engine is going to be disgarded against Smoke/Kit everytime or you just laugh paying two stealth to gain 1 credit after they paid 5 to rez is not bad especially as no high strength codegates can be stacked on that server verus houdini. —
@macydus2 : no, Enigma doesn't cost stealth credit to Refractor. —