Note: This review is focused on the startup format.
Let's ignore the effect of sabotage for the moment in order to compare this to other cards.
This card provides "pseudo multiaccess" to four cards for a cost of three. In this respect it looks comparable to The Maker's Eye or Legwork, which let you see three cards for a cost of two. You may not actually get to see those cards unless you also run archives, and if there is a spin doctor on the board then you probably won't get to see any agendas.
Is this likely to be splashed into reg Hoshiko decks? I would argue, probably not. Hoshiko is more likely to select The Twinning for multiaccess for many reasons.
So, this is likely an Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist-only card, and it's most interesting when the runner is trying to win by milling the corp -- you're playing this for the sabotage win-con rather than "just" for multiaccess. And if the runner is able to land this card twice let's say, that puts 8 cards in the bin.
If the runner is able to put say 20 cards from the corp in the bin via sabotage, they are likely to win the game, because about half of the agendas and half of the ice will end up in the bin, and corp can only Spin Doctor so much of that back. If they lose half their ice they may not be able to secure all the servers, and then Esa can win in the remote, or R&D, etc. Note that Esa is likely to do 6-10 sabotages from playing core damage cards, and then they can also get some more sabotage from Avgustina Ivanovskaya.
Of those sources of sabotage (Chastushka, Esa identity, Avgustina, Marrow), Chastushka is the easiest one for the corp to try to prevent, and many corps will stack ice on HQ when vs. Esa. Why?
So, Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist that wants to land Chastushka early is likely going to use Botulus or Boomerang. So many corps will decide to put two ice on HQ right away when playing against Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist.
However, there are other forms of counterplay besides just stacking ice:
- Crisium Grid shuts down and burns the Chastushka. For this reason, any upgrade installed in the root of HQ likely forces Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist to do a scouting run of HQ first, but then they have to break all the ice and pay five. So this will slow down a Chastushka-focused game plan considerably. Because of the need to respect Crisium Grid, Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist is likely to have to do this for any defensive upgrade installed on HQ, whether or not it is actually a Crisium Grid, since Crisium Grid is so easily splashable.
- Subliminal Messaging is also a pretty decent counterplay to sabotage-based decks. A corp with Subliminal Messaging in hand can sacrifice it whenever sabotage occurs, and it will return to their hand if Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist ever doesn't make a run. Since Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist is likely to spend turns drawing up or clicking on liberated or what have you, this is likely to happen pretty often, and this will greatly blunt the impact of small amounts of sabotage here and there, from Avgustina Ivanovskaya, Marrow, and the Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist identity. Getting Chastushka'd when you have 2x Subliminal Messaging in hand feels very good since you cut the strength of the effect in half.
Of these forms of counterplay, which ones are most viable?
Crisium Grid has always been a very strong card, having a significant impact in many criminal and shaper matchups. It shuts down a lot of shaper multiaccess events like The Maker's Eye, Khusyuk, Deep Dive. It also blocks Stargate. For this reason it usually goes on R&D, except in matchups like Steve Cambridge: Master Grifter. However, there are also a bunch of important multi-access tools that have been printed which don't depend on the run being successful, and so don't care about Crisium Grid. This includes Docklands Pass and now The Twinning. The more popular these cards become in the meta, the weaker it is to run Crisium Grid.
Subliminal Messaging is obviously not a "power" card, but it has usually been fine to run it as a "one-of" in many decks. It usually translates to a small amount of free, clickless money. There are a few newer corp identities that have significant synergy with Subliminal Messaging.
Of course, Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist can try to prevent you from getting back the Subliminal Messaging by initiating a run every turn, but if this does not advance their game plan of milling you, then this is it's own tax on the runner.