Tatu-Bola 2[credit]

Ice: Barrier
Strength: 1
Influence: ●●○○○

When the Runner passes this ice, you may swap it with a piece of ice from HQ. If you do, gain 4credit. (The new ice is installed unrezzed. You do not pay an install cost.)

subroutine End the run.

<strong>Designed by 2020 Intercontinental Champion Yannick Stucki</strong>
Illustrated by Cat Shen
Decklists with this card

The Automata Initiative (tai)

#44 • English
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I've been puzzling over Tatu-Bola for some time now and while I don't think I'm an expert on the matter, I'll weigh in with how I believe this card is meant to be used.

Let us isolate the cost, strength, type and subroutine. With these four points in mind, we see a very weak but relatively effective End the Run (ETR) gear check ICE. The strength of 1 is mostly irrelevant and will only tax those odd breakers that start at strength 0. Likewise, the single ETR sub is not going to break any runner's bank. Its subtype barrier is exactly where we expect ETR subs to proliferate, and while its 2 cost to rez is overpriced for what it does (compared to something like Ice Wall) it's also a cost most corps will be able to afford at any given time.

To reiterate, so far we have an extremely basic ETR gear check ICE that's over-costed by 1.

But now, let's move on to the card text. What does that extra get us? The ability to swap this ICE (rezzed) with another piece of ICE (from HQ unrezzed) and make 4 out of the deal. At first this seemed lateral, but the more I looked at it, the more genius I realized the effect was. In short:

This is an economy card combined with a piece of gear-check ICE that efficiently replaces itself when it is no longer needed.

How often do we want easy-to-rez ICE at the beginning of the game? ICE that just keeps the blasted runner out early while you're just setting up? (Excuse me, I barely have Ad-Block installed Mr. Runner, can you please stop snooping through my recycle bin) But of course as the game goes on we groan as the handy little gear check ICE becomes a liability. We invested in it--we rezzed it with our precious s--but come midgame and beyond the runner is laughing in Bad-Pub-1-Break-Breakers. The fact is we're losing more money with each increased install cost per additional ICE added to the server than they are with each time they have to break it. Sure, we could trash the ICE, overwrite it, but that just feels like signaling failure. We're the corp. We have to communicate that we're the alpha.

And that's where Tatu-Bola shines. Install it in your scoring remote early. Cover your centrals early. Heck, throw it in a blank remote early, I don't care--the point is, that by the time the runner starts breaking this thing for peanuts, you can just make it nope-out and put a better ICE in its place--and you make 2 (once you consider the 4 payout vs the 2 rez) out of the deal. No extra click needed, no additional installation cost--just a clean "swapsies." Plus, now you have that nice little gear check ICE to throw somewhere else where it can actually be useful--maybe covering archives to make Aumakua runs annoying, maybe as an outside piece of ICE to thwart Hippo, who knows? The point is, it's great all around; you get a better ICE in the server you want to protect and can reposition your expendable ICE.

Of course, decks that only want 1 piece (or 0 pieces) of ICE on servers aren't going to be excited about this one. After all, if you're only putting 1 ICE on a server, you don't care about installation costs since you'll just create a new server for a new piece of ICE anyway. Likewise, if you draw this late it's not going to be great. This is true of most inexpensive gear-check ICE, but this one is even worse since, it's a little more expensive vs. other options. But, if you're the kind of corp that likes to run a lot of ICE and you want an option to protect your servers early while paying you back a little dosh in the midgame while you shift your ICE around to better suit you, this one is a definite win.

(The Automata Initiative era)