This is an interesting card which combines two different elements:
- When your turn begins, gain 1 . This is comparable to cards like PAD Campaign (which is one more to rez and one more trash) and Tiered Subscription, which is one less to rez, but only pays you if the runner makes a run. (And costs one influence to bring into Jinteki, which usually can't be justified)
- Then, if you have 4 or less, do 1 net damage
The latter effect reminds of cards like Bio-Ethics Association, which was a pretty powerful card, even with it's restrictions. It meant that if the runner allowed you to establish a board presence, you could suddenly rez Bio-Ethics association and get some net damage without spending a click, possibly contributing to a kill. But also, even if you don't get the kill, the runner must run and trash this or suffer on-going net damage. So if you suddenly rez two of these, this is a tempo hit to the runner, even if it's only two to trash it, and you can follow up with more pressure the next turn.
However, this is really a pretty different card from Bio-Ethics Association, because, the corp usually cannot just sit below 4 . They will not be able to threaten to rez ice, play kill cards, score agendas, and so on. Ending turn at or below 3 is usually bad because you cannot trigger Snare!, so the runner will hammer HQ and R&D. So the corp is not really looking to trigger the net damage from this card in an on-going way.
Instead, the way I could imagine this card being used is the following:
- Bladderwort is face-down on the board. (More ideally, two of them.) The corp is on 5-10 or so during the runner's turn.
- The runner runs HQ or R&D and hits a Snare!.
- The corp is now on low credits after paying for Snare!. If necessary, they rez other assets on the board, like Storgotic Resonator perhaps, at the end of the runner's turn, to get to < 4 .
- At the end of the runner's turn, the corp rezzes any Bladderwort on the board. At the start of the corp's turn, each one does one net damage and gives the corp money to cover its rez cost.
- If we are lucky, we trash some cards matching the runner's faction, charging Storgotic Resonator. We spend our clicks clicking on that for additional net damage, which doesn't cost any money. Each time we click on it, there's a chance it will charge itself again, so hopefully we can do 3 net damage this way.
This may not be a reliable kill, it depends greatly on what cards are in the runner's hand. There are a lot of neutral cards that are commonly played that won't help us out much here.
However, the silver lining is, even if we don't get the kill, we still did net damage for each Bladderwort, which builds tempo, and now we have rezzed Bladderworts on the board, which are about as good as PAD Campaign. If the runner doesn't run these now, we get on-going money, and if they hit Snare again later without trashing these first, then they may get more net damage.
So to recap:
- It cost us 1 click to install Bladderwort
- By waiting to rez it until the opportune time, we got one net damage out of it, and this was credit neutral
- It costs the runner a click to draw that card back, and a click and 3 credits to go trash Bladderwort
That's the most positive argument for this card.
The argument against this card is like:
- PAD Campaign is not exactly a staple of Jinteki: Personal Evolution, because usually what will happen is, you play it, the runner either runs and trashes it, or waits for you to rez it and then trashes it, which takes a credit from you, and didn't do any damage to the runner. Trading a click for a click is not a tempo advantage. Even if it cost the runner some money to trash it, the runners usually have plenty of economy to trash PE's board.
- This card has a one less trash cost than PAD Campaign, so if that's all that happens, then this was slightly worse than playing PAD Campaign
- This card only does something more than PAD Campaign if you manage to install it, it doesn't get trashed, and at some later point, you have very few credits.
- Usually, the corp is not trying to go down to very low credits -- that usually means you are losing. In the turn where we rez Bladderwort, we get to do some net damage, but after that we have a strong incentive to click for credits for the rest of the turn, because if we end on 4 or fewer credits then we risk not being able to trigger traps like Snare! and Cerebral Overwriter. So if this turn doesn't result in a kill, then arguably we aren't ending our turn in a good place.
In other words, a lot of things have to go just right in order for this card to advance our game plan meaningfully, and more likely, it's slightly worse for us than a PAD Campaign.
One of the issues here is, if the corp count is not in a pretty narrow range, then hitting Snare! won't push you down into Bladderwort range. But keeping your credit count in a narrow range like this at all times may not be viable -- sometimes the corp wants to play a bunch of Hedge Fund or Celebrity Gift and bank for a power turn later.
So to make this more viable, we'd like a way to sit on a lot more credits than this, but suddenly dump them in a way that helps us do a lot of damage to the runner on their turn, and then follow up with Bladderwort on the start of our turn.
We could imagine like:
- The corp is on 15-20 . Saisentan is on R&D, already rezzed, and we install Corporate Troubleshooter in the root. The runner most likely guesses this is Hokusai Grid or Crisium Grid or something. Hoshiko Shiro: Untold Protagonist has a killer out and decides to run to clear the way for Stargate.
- The corp dumps almost all of their credits into Corporate Troubleshooter, so now it's like a 15 strength Saisentan or something. They also rez Storgotic Resonator, and sacrifice False Lead if possible.
- It's possible that Saisentan kills the runner outright, but if it doesn't, we follow up with rezzing of 2x Bladderwort at the end of the runner's turn, and on our turn, clicking on the Storgotic Resonator, or perhaps, scoring a Sting! that was sitting on the board. We can make sure we pay exactly the right amount into Corporate troubleshooter so that we have exactly 3 credits before rezzing the Bladderwort, and therefore have enough credits to score Sting.
Is this play likely to succeed?
- For most killers, like Bukhgalter or Odore, if we pay e.g. 15 into Corporate Troubleshooter then they have to pay about 15 to match strength. So this only works if we have a credit lead over the runner. That's not exactly common for Jinteki: Personal Evolution. But it could happen, because when playing vs this identity, it's often correct for the runner to decide not to play their econ cards in order to conserve them as shields for net damage and avoid being milled out. There's usually no risk of things like Punitive Counterstrike which can cause them to lose the game if the corp gets a credit lead, so they may not be concerned about the corp having a credit lead when the corp is Jinteki: Personal Evolution.
- If the runner is on Mimic, they may be screwed.
- If the runner is on Afterimage, if they have two stealth credits then they will bypass Saisentan and then the corp is screwed, otherwise they are likely screwed.
- If the runner planned to Chisel and Devil Charm the Saisentan, then they are probably screwed, because the corp can boost the strength after the runner has decided to encounter the ice.
- If the runner used Boomerang or Botulus on Saisentan, then the corp is screwed. But this is not likely once Saisentan has already been rezzed and is already known to the runner.
- If the runner has Endurance installed, then the corp is probably hopelessly screwed.
So again, this is kind of a marginal play. Some runners may be surprised by the Corporate Troubleshooter + Saisentan combo, but it requires the corp having a credit lead and the runner not having certain cards. To be able to pull this off reliably, the corp probably needs to run several Corporate Troubleshooter. But then if the runner sees one of them, that will be a massive tip-off to what's going on. It's hard to see any other ice in jinteki that would be interesting to pump up with Corporate Troubleshooter.
- Corporate Troubleshooter is pretty janky (but props to Bowlsley for finding a way to make it work in this deck)
- Bladderwort is also pretty janky
- The net damage part is probably too hard to trigger in an interesting or useful way. The only reason to play Bladderwort is that it's one less to rez than PAD Campaign, and that may be more important to Jinteki: Personal Evolution than the trash cost being one less.
I think you are wrong, for reasons I cannot disclose right now but will be happy to discuss after worlds.— Jinsei