Engolo 5[credit]

Program: Icebreaker - Decoder
Memory: 2 • Strength: 2
Influence: 4

Whenever you encounter a piece of ice, you may pay 2[credit]. If you do, it gains code gate for the remainder of that encounter. Use this ability only once per turn.

Interface → 1[credit]: Break 1 code gate subroutine.

2[credit]: +4 strength.

Illustrated by Andreas Zafiratos
Decklists with this card

Kampala Ascendent (ka)

#108 • English
Startup Card Pool
Standard Card Pool
Standard Ban List (show history)

No rulings yet for this card.


It's been discovered, over time, that Engolo is an Anarch (and minifaction) card in disguise. You rarely see it in Shaper (apart from the occasional Kit deck); shapers have all the best decoders (and thus can typically play something that fits their deck better than Engolo), tend to prefer to spend the early game building up their economy rather than running, and are often short of MU. You rarely see it in Criminal, either (although more frequently in Criminal than in Shaper!); if Criminals want an expensive decoder, they'll normally play Amina which has better numbers, and they have plenty of tools for early aggression other than icebreakers so Engolo doesn't have much of an opportunity to shine.

The thing about Engolo is that it's a card that's at its best when you need to run, but don't have a full set of breakers. It'll get you into servers early, which is nice; but it's also incredibly expensive at doing that, which rather puts a damper on things. The problem is that if you're using it for early aggression, you're paying 5 to install it, and more to use it, which leaves you at a low enough credit total that most of your economy doesn't work and you're at perpetual risk of getting blown up by Hard-Hitting News. Meanwhile, it's able to stand on its own for only a narrow section of time (the time before the Corp can manage to double-non-code gate-ICE their servers), and then is inferior to more normal breakers against the majority of ICE you'll face. So you're putting a lot in, and not getting enough benefit from it before it starts to fade in value.

A side issue is that Engolo looks like it wants to be a card for aggressive decks, but those decks often want to run – sometimes even have to run – lots of times in a turn in order to make their economy work. That isn't the greatest fit for a card which has "Use this ability only once per turn." stapled onto the reason why you'd play the card in the first place.

Still, Anarch as a faction has a lot of features that make Engolo a good fit. For one thing, they have no good decoders (except for possibly Buzzsaw, if you have enough support), so having suboptimal numbers is less of an issue than it would be elsewhere. Most importantly, though, Anarchs are good at keeping servers small; they have cards like Hippo and Devil Charm and Spooned to tear down a large server before it gets too large, and cards like Stargate to prevent the Corp drawing more ICE to replace it. But the main drawback of Anarch ICE destruction decks is that they often have trouble tuning themselves to the sort of ICE the corp is using. Being able to break ICE with Hippo needs an appropriate breaker. Being able to break it with cutlery requires knowing what sort of ICE it is.

Engolo fixes all that. "Hey", it says, "I know what sort of ICE you're facing: it's a code gate. I know which breaker you need: me." If you're only facing each piece of ICE once, having slightly awkward numbers isn't that much of an issue, but knowing for certain that you'll be appropriately set up for a specific piece of ICE, regardless of what it is, is really valuable. So Engolo is close to a perfect fit for ICE destruction decks, which can often rely on it as their primary/only breaker.

Engolo is also commonly seen in Adam, who has no breakers of his own, and who gets huge benefits from early aggression. It isn't as great a fit as in Anarch, but it nonetheless is a good fit for Adam's playstyle, often persuading him to import Engolo rather than something else.

As a side note, Engolo is really, really frustrating for certain sorts of Corp deck. Those decks are unpopular, so you wouldn't normally play it just to beat them; but Corp decks that heavily rely on cutting you off a particular sort of breaker (e.g. killers or fracters) hate having to fight through Engolos as well, and it works incredibly well against combos that rely on mythic or trap ICE.

Still, even if you're facing a more normal sort of deck, being able to make critical runs early is nice (even if you have to overpay to get past medium-strength ICE), and the numbers aren't even all that bad; Engolo is at its worst against the common 3-strength ICE (and loses out to Amina against larger ICE too, because it typically has 3 subroutines), but smaller and larger ICE is still widely played, and Engolo is one of the best breakers you could ask for against something like a Surveyor that's completely out of control. Engolo's become a little worse in the current upgrade-heavy metagame because it isn't that great when running multiple times a turn (which you'll need to be able to do against things like Anoetic Void and Border Control). But if you can keep servers small, the heavy install cost and frustratingly frequent need to boost will be offset by the fact that it'll carry you through much of the game before you find the rest of your rig.

(System Update 2021 era)

Engolo actually hasn´t got that bad numbers. 2c:4str isn´t very flexible, but it probably won´t need any more boosting for that ice, so it´s actually pretty cheap against big ice

As of late 2020, Engolo is not restricted anymore. This allowed it to be one of the most splashed breaker across the board, along with Paperclip and Aumakua.

Why is it so much use? Two words : early aggression. Engolo allow the runner to run and facecheck any ice. Since you can color the ice as Code Gate, you are assured to be able to interact with it the first time. This speed up the setup of the runner considerably. Best of all, you only need that one card, not any other combo. Also, Engolo is the only non AI that can interact with trap ices, because it can change the trap type to Code Gate.

Did I mention it is also an absolute beast of a breaker. 2 creds or get strenght 6! In the current meta, there is only 12 ices stronger than that (and 149 equal or weaker than str 6). You could have only Engolo and Pelangi and be able to run a server with 4 ices.

The drawback for it is 2 MU and 4 influences. If you have means to tutor the breaker (Special Order, Gachapon, etc.), it is easy to have only one copy in the deck and still run fine.

Engolo pairs well with Dinosaurus or Gebrselassie. Dinosaurus push the strenght to 4, allowing you to interact with 110 ices without boosting. Gebrselassie allow you to keep the strenght boost to run multiple ices, keeping that low cost to boost that much longer.

In my opinion, Engolo is probably the best breaker of the game, for its strenght and diversity and lack of real problem (no viruses, can interact with anything, not an AI). At a cost of 5, it is a bargain for what it provide.

(Uprising era)

While Laamb received immense popularity from the moment it was spoiled, Engolo has not been on runner’s minds despite having arguably better numbers on it.

It’s easy to see why though – Laamb has everything necessary to being the perfect support breaker. It’s not an AI but acts like one, taking care of traps and surprise ICE. Its numbers are also consistent – you can always expect to pay 2, 5, or 7 to get through any ICE (unlike Inti or other Shaper fracters). Sure, Engolo is also a pseudo-AI but you aren’t paying the expensive install cost and 2 MU for just an AI when you can get Aumakua for cheaper. Engolo’s primary inhibitor from it seeing more play is the fact that it’s a good pseudo-AI but not as great a decoder as other Shaper ones. Laamb can handle double duty in this regard – a Shaper fracter and the pseudo-AI.

I’d like to give special mention to Kit though who can really make an Engolo deck work by being able to carve through any double-ICEd server with ease. As mentioned in the Laamb review, pair it with some Cyberdelia, maybe even Gebrselassie or Egret and you’ll be able to lock down any remote with ease.

(Reign and Reverie era)