What's That Song Called?
I like to think of Sand Storm as completing part of a deflector suite of ice, which includes Susanoo-no-Mikoto, Bullfrog, Mirāju, and Mind Game. Let's run down what these deflectors do:
- Susanoo-no-Mikoto moves the Runner to Archives upon firing its subroutine. As an additional cost to jack out, the Runner must encounter a piece of ICE.
- Bullfrog moves the Runner to a server of your choice upon firing its subroutine, but requires you to win a psi game. It also physically moves (or jumps, if you prefer) to the server being deflected to.
- Mirāju moves the Runner to Archives if the Runner breaks its subroutine. If this happens, Mirāju is derezzed.
- Mind Game moves the Runner to a server of your choice upon firing its subroutine, but requires you to win a psi game. As an additional cost to jack out, the Runner must add 1 installed card to the bottom of their stack.
All right. So putting aside various rez costs and strengths for the moment, you can see that each of these deflectors perform different versions of the same job: getting the Runner off the server they're running. So how does Darude ahem Sand Storm compare?
Sand Storm's subroutine combines Bullfrog's and Mind Game's server of choice option with Susanoo's and Mirāju's lack of a psi game. However, as a downside, Sand Storm is a Trap-type ICE and therefore trashes itself upon firing, leaving the server open like with Bullfrog. As an upside to the downside, as a Trap, Sand Storm is much more likely to fire against any Runner that isn't running AI.
Since you can choose the server Sand Storm redirects the Runner to, the obvious play is to shoot them to a server with a trap in it. But since Sand Storm has no penalty for jacking out, unlike Mind Game or Susanoo, the Runner can just do that - though if you really want to play mind games, you can send them to a server with an agenda and have them think it's a trap. Whirlpool, Ancestral Imager or Labyrinthine Servers can help dissuade them if you need to, but not having a jack-out penalty built in is a distinct disadvantage.
Costs and Strengths
Sand Storm is a 2-to-rez, 5-strength Trap ICE. That's a great rez-to-strength ratio and pretty on-par with most Trap ICE, which benefit from being cheap to rez and hard to break, with the downside of being one-use. When you compare this to the rest of the ICE in the Jinteki deflector suite, Sand Storm comes out pretty favorably:
- Susanoo-no-Mikoto: 9:7 -- 1.28
- Bullfrog: 3:4 -- 0.75
- Mirāju: 2:0 -- NaN
- Mind Game: 0:4 -- 0
- Sand Storm: 2:5 -- 0.4
On rez-to-strength ratio alone, Sand Storm comes in second, just under Mind Game and above Bullfrog.
So Why Play This Song?
Mind Game is obviously the Big Cheese of deflector ICE, outshining essentially every other piece in the suite. So what we should ask is: why play Sand Storm over Mind Game?
- Sand Storm is a Trap, which is unbreakable without an AI
- Sand Storm doesn't have the uncertainty of a psi game
- Sand Storm is Mars-themed and therefore awesome
- Sand Storm lets you start humming when you rez it (dodododo... dodododo.... dodododoDODODODO)
And conversely, why should you play other deflectors instead of Sand Storm?
- Mind Game is free to rez
- Mirāju has a beneficial subroutine that the Runner will be reluctant to break
- Susanoo is expensive but unexpected, and is a Sentry instead of a Code Gate
- Bullfrog doesn't trash itself so it can boost cards like Seidr Adaptive Barrier
Solar Panels At 85%
So having discussed Sand Storm's strengths and weaknesses, there's one final question: How should you play Sand Storm?
- Against Shaper archetypes that don't rely on AI (or any other faction really, but with God of War and Aumakua rising in the meta I'd be a little more careful there)
- As an emergency deflector alongside Mind Game - bounce the Runner everywhere!
- As a scary facedown piece of ICE that can scare the Runner off (or bounce the Runner off if they take the bait)
- In a quiet room, with hidden speakers under the table quietly going dodododo
- As part of an awesome card castle
- Practice card throwing
tl;dr - Sand Storm has some advantages but loses out to Mind Game in most respects. Would work if you slotted it alongside Mind Game to have more deflectors on hand.