This card disappointed me when it was spoiled. 7 is a lot for a piece of ice, and I just wanted it somehow to do... more. Higher strength. More impactful subroutines. Cost a little less. Something. It doesn't even end the run! It's like someone just took a bunch of the "annoyance" subs from ice like Maskirovka or Ivik and threw them in a box!
But hey, I was making a Jinteki deck anyway, so I figured I'd give it a spin and see what I thought of it in action. I fully expected to end the game having rezed exactly zero of them.
I could not have been more wrong! This ice is actually pretty great. I just didn't appreciate why until I saw it on the board.
I mean - it's clearly taxing ice. It's not going to keep someone out who is determined, but it will definitely make them pay in the process, one way or another! But it might be enough to keep someone from running every turn, so I slapped it in front of R&D. And it did work.
None of the subs are super-threatening by themselves, but each one represents a swing in resources worth around 1-2 clicks. If all four subs fire, I usually figure that's about a 6-click swing. (I count the credit subs as only each, because most players can convert into 2 one way or another) That's actually a pretty significant swing!
Of course, the runner probably doesn't want to let them all fire. But here's where it gets interesting - There aren't actually that many efficient ways to bulk-break codegate subroutines. Even with a good breaker, getting past this is going to cost some money. A Hyperbaric, charged up to 4 strength, can do it for 4. Basically everything else is worse, especially in startup format. In a surprise upset, Buzzsaw does okay, leveraging it's multi-sub breaking for a total cost of 5. (And you can get it down to 2 if you have support from something like Leech or K2CP Turbine, which is probably the best-case scenario.) Cat's Cradle takes 7 to break everything. And Unity is in the middle of the pack at 5 - 7, depending on board state.
"But wait!", I hear you say. "The current meta has a lot of ways to break ice that don't require icebreakers!" Well, here is where it starts getting interesting. Any corp deck right now has take into account the existence of the three Bs: Botulus, Boomerang, and Boat. They're the bane of a lot of expensive ice. But none of these are terribly great at breaking Vampyronassa.
Endurance requires four power tokens to get through. That's not sustainable for long, even with Captain Padma Isbister frantically refilling it. Botulus has to wait four turns to break everything, which is a long time to wait. And poor Boomerang can only get through two! (Although the new card Poison Vial helps a lot in all of these cases. We'll have to see how much that one starts showing up...)
So even with the three Bs on the job, this is still costly ice to get through. Also, in startup at least, Devil Charm has just rotated, so ice destruction is less less common, and investing expensive pieces of ice is less risky these days. Derez is still a possibility - Emergency Shutdown and Tranquilizer are still around, so it's worth being cautious of criminal. But overall, this is a good environment for Vampyronassa to appear in.
So yeah! I went in pretty unenthusiastic, but after using it in a few games, I'm feeling like this is actually a pretty solid piece of ice! The 3-influence cost means it may not see much play in other factions, but there are a lot of different Jinteki decks that would love cut down on digs into R&D or make a scoring remote more expensive to peek at. And this card does all of that magnificently!
One final thought: I'm always really nervous about ice that forces card draws. It can sometimes be abused by the runner, either by overloading the corp's hand, or just removing the top card of R&D so they can see what's beneath it. So a big thank you to Null Signal Games, for making the card-draw optional! If the last sub was just "Corp draws 2 cards", this would be a bit worse. Well done, NSG!
The problem is, you can let some subs fire - unless you're trying to deny all econ, gaining 2c won't sustain the corp's econ unless they have below 5c, and the corp often doesn't want to draw due to agenda flood/starting the turn at 6 cards, rendering that sub useless as well. That means a charged hyperbaric handles it for 2c, botulus needs 1 virus counter and 2c lost, the boat (though banned right now) needs 2 counters... And you rezzed it for 7!— m.p