Ablative Barrier is an early-game gearcheck and late-game non-agenda installer/unarchiver.
“when rezzed”effects, like
Threat-gated operations, play differently than
Threat-gated repeatable/continuous abilities (Jaguarundi’s
“when encountered”, Vovô Ozetti’s static abilities, and so on). This means that by the mid-game, when choosing whether to rez or even install Ablative, you'll be weighing “now” against “more”.
Install 1 card from HQ or Archivesis narrowed with
in the root of or protecting another server. This keeps the rez cost (and threat level) low, and lets you play more with (still broad) subsets of a (super broad) effect, to weave a distinct texture.
For example, you can bring back the (self-trashing and easily-trashable) Rashida Jaheem (which, against a run-last-click, reads
When you rez this ice, draw 3 cards and gain $3.!); but you cannot sneak in a Project Vitruvius, nor can you ice up the current server with a Magnet.
(Tatu-Bola being Jinteki's
$2 ETR ice with some “post-ETR” value.)
By the way, any gearcheck can (implicitly) act like a Pulse trigger, since they waste the click spent on that run (by ending it), which synergizes with click-taxing (in HB esp.).
When you rez this ice during a run against this server, the Runner loses [click].
Flavor: In Pathfinder, an "ablative barrier" is a spell that blocks things and pushes them away.
Invisible layers of solid force surround and protect the target, granting that target a +2 armor bonus to AC. Additionally, the first 5 points of lethal damage the target takes from each attack are converted into nonlethal damage.
Regarding the flavour: Ablation, in the context of armour, which is most applicable here, is where it is expected to be destroyed in the process.— Quarg