Top Hat

Top Hat 0[credit]

Influence: 1

Whenever you make a successful run on R&D, instead of breaching R&D, you may choose 1 of the top 5 cards in R&D and access it.

"I usually find something interesting in there. Just not what I was looking for."
Illustrated by John Ariosa
Decklists with this card

Intervention (in)

#67 • English
Startup Card Pool
Standard Card Pool
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  • Updated 2024-02-02

    UFAQ [Michael Boggs]

    Does Top Hat allow the Runner to see the top cards of R&D before choosing which to access?



"you may choose 1 of the top 5 cards of R&D and access it."

Can you guess what is missing from this card? Two words are conspicuously absent, what are they?

Give up? The answer is "look at". (I also would have accepted "reveal", although that's not how the templating normally goes) That's right, folks, without looking at the cards, you get to decide which of the top 5 cards you'd like to look at. "I'll look at.... number 4"

Is this good? Maybe, but not without some support. Accessing the top card of R&D is not much different from accessing a random card from R&D, if anything it's slightly worse, as the top card goes into the corp's hand, so that's extra info. So, when is this ability good?

If you have some info about the top few cards of R&D, accessing a particular one may be beneficial. Perhaps a digital friend or your bioroid programming have already told you that the top card isn't anything you want. Maybe you've already got R&D locked down, and your R&D Interface can only dig you so far. Looking one card further may help you grab that pesky final agenda.

Is this worth a card slot? Not in most decks, but it does have advantages. It's hardware, making it resistant to trashing, and it's install cost is priced just right, so it just may find a place in decks that already like hardware

(Intervention era)
Does Top Hat work with Eater so that you can access the card? It's an access replacement effect, right? —
It seems like this would be amazing with Indexing + Doppelganger. ***It's been so long since I've been on this site, I've forgotten how to hyperlink to the card page. —
@DGB123 Without an official ruling, I would have to say no. While replacing the access step normally allows synergy with Eater (i.e. account siphon, keyhole), top hat replaces it with an access effect. I believe Eater would prevent this access as well. "You cannot access more than 0 cards for the remainder of this run." —
I think it should be noted that this can also, turn off Prisec, Product Placement, Mumbad Virtual Tour, Disposable HQ, and Cyberdex Virus Suite when they are installed in the root of R&D. Still a niche card at the moment. However, if we see more upgrades with 'on access' effects get released, this card may become worth a slot. —
@Gilgamesh_KoH This is worded just like any other access replacement effect (qv Account Siphon). In this case, ee replace "accessing cards" with an access effect. It's counter-intuitive, but I feel that this does in fact work with Eater —
Eater should not work with this for the same reason it does not work with I formation Sifting. Just because the nature of the access has been changed does not change the restriction of Eater, which is that you access 'no more than ZERO'. In the case of Information Sifting, the official ruling of a 'pile' is that it contains at least one card. You would pick a pile, than access ZERO, and no more. The same would occur for Hat Trick, the normal access is overwritten, sure, but you end up accessing tje card you pick, which Eater then nullifies. —
Just a thought here. If I have 3 Top Hats installed, can I access more than one card from the top 5 of R&D? If I've seen the top card of R&D through another card effect (& there's enough of those), can I opt to access 3 of the other 4 cards instead? 'I'll look at cards 2, 3 and 5, please!' —
@MarkyG: only one replacement effect can be applied, so there's no point in 3 Top Hats installed (as only one of them can be used). —

So as according to @andrewboydston, Top Hat is good when you are accessing cards with the knowledge that YOU KNOW what you are accessing, otherwise it's just another random access.

Well folks, thanks to Reign and Reverie, I present you ladies and gentlemen, INSIGHT =)

With Insight, runners are now able to SNIPE that agenda without double running R&D which is kind of suicidal against the new hot Corps of lobstermodernism Argus and the sneaky Mti who can install ICE on the fly despite being once per turn. Also, multi runs in the recent meta is very punishing for the fact that you need to respect the new Econ Warfare > HHN > HPT combo turn and also spending a huge amount of boon you looted just to score that one agenda.

Despite giving the Corp a chance to re-arrange what they can draw for the next 4 cards, Insight also allows you to LOOK AT the top 4 cards that the Corp just arranged. So if there's no agenda, treat it as a blank Indexing you just made and chill out to make the sniping run for agenda without breaking a sweat on R&D.

Oh, and what if the Corp ICE up R&D when they see this coming? Great! Now you have slightly vulnerable HQ or scoring remote to break in then.

Did I mention Top Hat is only 1 influence? So for each Insight and Top Hat pair, that's the same influence you spend on Indexing! Top Hat is also a hardware, so perhaps you might only need to land 1 on the board and only 1 or 2 copies will go into your deck. Although theoretically you are spending a slot of two for this pair, but it really doesn't matter as long as it wins you the game. A calculated risk and sure-fire agenda scoring is better than suicidal multi runs which would lose you the game.

In a nutshell, I can see Top Hat coming back from unplayable to super exciting card to see in the meta! P/S: Sounds like I'm reviewing Insight more than Top Hat. Jeez

(Reign and Reverie era)

I've been trying out Top Hat in my Criminal decks recently, and have been surprised at how impressive it's been.

A common scenario for Criminal decks in the Netrunner late game, especially when playing against combo decks (which Criminals are often weak to), is that they have a lot of money, but no servers to use it on – HQ is too well-guarded to get into repeatedly and you can't trash operations there anyway, and the remotes are either empty or full of defensive upgrades. In this situation, if things don't change, the Corp is eventually going to draw into the other half of their combo, either via clicks or perhaps with cards like Rashida Jaheem. The vulnerable server in this setup is normally R&D – against Criminal, it's common for Corps to dedicate most of their defences to HQ, and hope that R&D accesses get blocked by ICE or a Hedge Fund or the like. As long as the Corp is "bulk-drawing", you can't R&D lock them with only basic runs, so they often don't mind too much that most of their ICE went into defending HQ (and the remote, if the deck needs one).

Top Hat papers over that gap really well – if you're in a situation where R&D runs are cheap, but you have nothing much to do with your clicks, it lets you establish a very strong R&D lock (or alternatively, just get a lot of random accesses to hope to snipe the last few points – if you're playing a Criminal deck that runs a lot, you're normally on 3-5 agenda points by this stage in the game). You run R&D, and access the top card. Then you run R&D, and access the second card, and so on. The idea is to remember how far into R&D you've gotten, count the cards that the Corp draws (so you know how deep into R&D you've looked already), and continue your R&D runs where you left off. As long as you can run often enough, you can ensure that the Corp never draws an agenda, so every point that turns up will go into your score area rather than the Corp's (which is very important if they're loading up on Audacity or Biotic Labor).

Although this strategy might seem expensive – and for a Shaper, it would be! – the release of Cezve has meant that repeated centrals running is now well within the reach of many Criminals (except when playing against glacier). As such, the main effect that playing Top Hat has is to force the Corp to put a lot of ICE on R&D, and then pay to rez it, two things that generally aren't high priority for Corps playing against Criminal. Stretching the Corp's resources too thinly and forcing them to cover too many servers is how Criminals win games, so it's possible to get a surprising amount of benefit from one card slot that costs 0 and 1 influence.

Top Hat also has a fringe use as a tech card, in that it makes it possible to run R&D, and access cards in it without "breaching" R&D or accessing cards in its root. This dodges some defensive upgrades, notably Prisec and Mwanza City Grid. It'd take a very weird metagame for this use as a tech card to become a reason on its own to play Top Hat (even though the main users of Prisec and Mwanza City Grid, Ob Superheavy Logistics and Jinteki: Personal Evolution, are quite popular at the moment, the metagame hasn't reached that level of distortion yet). However, it's a bonus, that does help contribute to the strength of the card.

What about combos? The combo with Insight is obvious, but not really where a Criminal wants to be spending influence – being able to look at four cards in R&D and then run in to steal one (for two cards, three influence, and ) is only a slightly better effect than simply just running in with The Maker's Eye (which is one card, two influence, and , 2). And The Maker's Eye typically isn't making the cut in Criminal lists (or even Shaper lists) nowadays – even Ken can often find better uses for the card slots.

However, there's another combo, with Möbius, which I have been trying out – it's probably unplayable outside Ken decks, but seems marginally playable there. Ken decks need a huge critical mass of run events to work (and Möbius qualifies), and are often facing an undefended R&D turn 1 (a situation in which Möbius is probably the best economy card in the game, gaining 5 for a click and seeing the top card of R&D twice – this is a better rate of return than even Carpe Diem). As such, Möbius has obvious early-game advantages for Ken, but suffers from falling off somewhat in the late game because it's hard to get benefit from both runs (and yet you need to succeed at both in order to get the 4 from Möbius). Top Hat helps to make Möbius playable by giving it a late-game purpose as well – if you're trying to R&D lock with repeated R&D runs and accessing a different card each time, making two R&D runs in the same turn is reasonable, and making the pair of runs , 4 cheaper is definitely worth a card (and another , 1 cheaper if it triggers Ken's ID ability and Swift's refund). It's also always fun to see your opponent reading the cards you're playing.

There's probably also a viable combo with Find the Truth (build your own R&D Interface with two 0-cost cards!), but I haven't tested this one myself so I don't know how well it would work.

So is Top Hat worth it in Criminal? I think it's a serious competitor for a deck slot in some Criminal decks, but I'm not convinced that it'll actually win that competition. It definitely has an effect that many Criminal decks want, and that they find hard to get by other means; and it helps to shore up some common match-ups (especially fast-advance and combo decks) that Criminals often find difficult to win. The main question is simply as to whether you can find another 45 cards that give a larger benefit to your deck than the rather situational benefit that you get from a Top Hat, and that's going to depend a lot on how the deck is designed, what its economy looks like, and the like. (Top Hat seems to be better in decks with a mix of an event economy and Cezve – this economy mix can get up to high credit totals in the mid-to-late game and is good at repeatedly running R&D, but will eventually run out of credits if the game goes very long, and thus needs some way to close games out.) You also need to check whether the deck can use the similar (but more expensive) Stargate instead – Stargate has a better effect if you can get it installed, but many decks can't afford the influence, or the install hit, or (in particular) the memory cost. Top Hat can thus be seen as a "baby Stargate" – a similar but worse effect, but one that's much easier to include in a deck and that may be sufficient to patch a Stargate-shaped hole that you can't afford an actual Stargate to fill.

As such, for many Criminal decks, I suspect that this is a card to try out, and eventually reject – but it's hard to know whether it's worth rejecting without trying it, and it seems to slot into some decks really neatly.

(Midnight Sun era)

Decklist when? :)

I just thought out a janky Akiko deck with Chrysopoeian Skimming, Mobius and Legwork (or a zahya deck with Top Hat and Insight)... Only to realise Top Hat rotated :(

Evoking imagery of conjuring something unseen from a digital hat, this magical card links thematically with Ele "Smoke" Scovak: Cynosure of the Net. It also has some interesting thematic and mechanical interactions with several other cards.

Of course, this card pairs nicely with anything that gives you information about the cards in R&D. See the top card using Woman in the Red Dress, Spy Camera, or Globalsec Security Clearance then bypass it if you want to keep digging. Do this as many times as you can run R&D in a turn for an additional unique access each time (barring additional shenanigans).

As the number of successful R&D runs increases, there are other interesting interactions.

With Equivocation the interaction is relevant on your first successful run on R&D. If you don't want to access the card revealed by Equivocation (it's not an agenda or must trash asset for example) you have options. One is to put that card in the corps hand, allowing you to access the second card directly. Another is to not put that in the corps hand, and use Top Hat to access the second card. Or third or fourth or fifth but without additional information these are functionally equivalent. Why choose one over the other? Well obviously on the one hand you are denying the corp a free draw by using Top Hat, usually to be preferred although mill type decks or certain combos may choose to offer the card anyway. As has been noted, in using Top Hat you forgo accessing any cards in the root, allowing you to dodge cards like Prisec, Cyberdex Virus Suite, Mumbad Virtual Tour, Disposable HQ, or Product Placement. That can be good. At the same time, you may want to access and trash any number of upgrades (Caprice Nisei or that Crisium Grid that's blocking your Indexing play, the list goes on) and therefore you may choose not to activate Top Hat.

So, impressive tactical flexibility in this combo that gets you: one access you want or reveals two cards with one blind access and potentially dodges an ambush or mills corp. All for the net price of 0. That compares favourably with the tempo hit of of 4 for R&D Interface. However you are also dedicating 1, which can be tight in stealth decks like Smoke

Now, on the second run things get more interesting. Obviously, your second run can dig past uninteresting reveals from a Find the Truth run elsewhere. Or, you can run R&D with Find the Truth on your first run, either accessing the reveled card or bypassing it as with Equivocation above.

Indexing presents perhaps the most interesting multi-run interactions. Find but can't access 2 agendas? Bury 1 deep and potentially grab it next turn. Or, continue to get unique accesses on subsequent turns while you maintain R&D lock for up to 5 turns.

Obviously, Top Hat will pair will with cards that reward multiple runs. Temüjin Contract, Net Mercur, The Turning Wheel (to gain tokens - you can't combine them), Datasucker. Consoles like Doppelgänger or Mirror. Events like Dirty Laundry or Möbius.

Other interactions (of admittedly limited utility):

Dodge the operation that Seidr Laboratories: Destiny Defined pulls from Archives when you their ICE.

As R&D dwindles, do deep digs against decks that have been using Daily Business Show, Sensie Actors Union, or Shannon Claire

It's not unique. Get consistency and credits by running 3 and feeding additional copies to Aesop's Pawnshop. Great value if you installed it for 0 using Hayley Kaplan: Universal Scholar

Bottom line - is this a tier one tournament card? Not as of this writing and maybe never (Station One). Is it interesting and playable? Yes.

(Station One era)
Credit to stagalore and andrewboydston for noting some of these interactions already —
"However you are also dedicating 1 MU, which can be tight in stealth decks like Smoke", unless you meant something else, this is hardware, it doesn't take up any memory —
What Freq meant was the combo with Equivocation. Equivocation does take 1 MU. —
You're right, sorry, my bad —

Entire video on Top Hat. Watch it, damn you. Also a surprise guest appearance by the strongest man on earth. .....................................................................................................................

(Blood and Water era)