Startup Review - Parhelion Era This is good ice. Especially in NBN. It hits all the points I want out of ice.
- Painful Facecheck
- Ends the Run
- Rezzable on the first turn
- Actual costs to break
No other ice in NBN actually meets these criteria. The closest is Ping, which hits the first three, but usually becomes a 1 credit break as soon as the runner has their breakers up. Tollbooth definitely hits three but is expensive enough it often sits there unrezzed. This definitely is painful to rez turn 1, but if you're doing it to a random facecheck, the first subroutine is going to ensure that the runner isn't going to immediately outpace you in economy. I would say it's nice to have a piece of ice that sits between those two and can 'do it all'.
Since I brought up Tollbooth , let's actually compare it to Mes in terms of breakability. If the runner is going to be breaking both subroutines on the Mes, the cost to break is very similar. Of our seven startup decoders, it will cost the same on Cat's Cradle (5 Credits), Gordian Blade (4 Credits), and Unity with 1 or 2 breakers (5 or 4 credits), 1 more credit to break Tollbooth with Abagnale (5/4 Credits), 3 more credits to break Tollbooth with Buzzsaw (7/4 Credits), and 1 more credit to break Mes with Abaasy (5/6 credits). Hyperbaric will cost 1 more to get up to strength to fight Tollbooth and break, then 1 more to break Mes after reaching strength. I don't want to get into the whole world of stuff that breaks them that isn't a decoder, but that extra subroutine will usually be more relevant than the additional strength. Which brings us to the main way Tollbooth is better - the -3 credits on encounter without the corp doing any extra work. Which brings me to the next question - when should you actually advance this Mes?
Advancing a piece of ice gives a huge amount of information. In Startup, there are only four pieces of advanceable ice - Mes, Ice Wall, Hortum, and Pharos. That's not a lot of ice! There are no Sentries or damage or trashing - the runner knows what can happen - the run will end and they will either, lose 6 credits, give the corp 1 credit (assuming 1 counter), or be given one tag. If the corp has 4 or less credits, the worst thing is one the 1 credit to the corp. In addition, that advance will cost the corp 1 credit and 1 click. So given these costs to advancing, when should we advance the Mes? The easiest answer is if we can advance the Mes for free or for profit, which means we're playing as either Pravdivost Consulting: Political Solutions or Weyland Consortium: Built to Last. This also is most likely going to give away the least information, since these IDs are going to run the most advanceable ice anyway (you're not necessarily giving anything away if your opponent is expecting it anyway). If you're playing any other ID outside of WC, ESPECIALLY in NBN, advancing the Mes is basically wasting a turn advertising it to the runner (I know we like ads but I prefer when they pay us, not the other way around). This does give some options for bluffing other ice as the Mes, but that's probably outside the scope of this already long review. So I would almost never advance a facedown Mes, unless it was in front of an obvious scoring server. If the runner checks without a decoder they're already going to lose 3 credits - if they're competent they won't run the advanced ice without the decoder unless they're prepared to lose 6. Once the Mes is rezzed however, I'm much more advance happy, depending on what server it's protecting - against Captain Padma Isbister: Intrepid Explorer the Mes on R&D might get advanced 3 times. Those thinking it through might see that a Mes advanced 3 times is actually costing as much as that Tollbooth I was comparing to earlier, with advancements past 3 actually costing more (not to account for the time cost). However, this way we can think of it as a 2 stage Tollbooth - paying 5 to rez early and paying the remaining 3 when it's later game and we know we're going to get broken but want to make it hurt as much as possible. Tollbooth is still going to be better for a server that the runner might want to hit lots of times, but Mes is going to compare very well.
I've mostly considered Mes in it's home of NBN - when would you want to splash it in another faction? Two influence isn't too bad so people who want the advanceable ice (WC predominately) might want this. I could also see a Jinteki who wants to have good code gates (maybe for Ivik) or to tax the runner and to make running remotes with valuable assets really undesirable - advanceable ice can also make a really nice repository of counters for a Trick of Light.
Phew that was a lot - TLDR: Mestnichestvo is good ice - think of it as a Tollbooth that gives you a discount to rez, but you have to charge up for the full effect. Probably don't advance it unless it's a late game situation or advancing ice is actively beneficial for you.
Pretty cool review from the startup point of view! I like long reviews! The only thing is that when you advance Mes three times you're paying as much as a Tollbooth + 3 clics. I think it's totally worth it but it's also worth to mention = )— valerian32
I did mention in the end of the giant paragraph about advancing :D. But yeah it's such a neat thing to think about that Mes is actually Tollbooth - actively better if they can't break it and needing to be charged up if they can.— Spaulding