After my last review where I lambasted my least favorite Runner ID, I thought maybe go back and visit a card I really like. And that card is everyone's favorite guardian: Aumakua. Fun bit of trivia: an aumakua (pronounced oh-mah-KOO-ah) is, according to Hawaiian folklore, a guardian deity of one's family. One of the forms it can take is everyone's favorite turtle program.

I absolutely love Aumakua. Not because it's exceedingly strong (it can become the juggernaut if the Corp doesn't purge), or because it's incredibly cheap (1 per subroutine is pretty good, especially for a 3 install). I don't play Criminal all that often, either, but it isn't because of influence (1 influence is incredibly cheap). So why do I love Aumakua? Because it's one of the first cards I saw during my first game.

Bit of story time. At my LGS, the January before the announcement of Jacking Out, I made the mistake of picking up the Core Set of L5R. While looking for people to play against at my LGS, I came across some people playing Netrunner. Curious, I stopped to watch the game, and after a few rounds, I asked if I could play. One guy, let's call him J, let me borrow a Valencia Estevez deck. I don't remember the entire deck setup, but there were two cards that stood out: Maw and an fan-made alt-art of Aumakua he had gotten from eBay (sleeved, obviously). The turtle stuck with me, and as soon as I got my copy of the (original) core set, I picked up Crimson Dust and Daedalus complex, making a Noise deck with Aumakua, not realizing Noise was rotated. During my early days, I would try to slot Aumakua in wherever because I liked the card. If NISEI wanted to print their own promo art for Aumakua, I'm sure I'd buy it in a heartbeat, all because it's the card that got me into Netrunner in the first place.

Random trivia: Masvingo is the only Netrunner card to date that uses neopronouns in its flavour text.

Masvingo joins the long history of advanceable Weyland ice that gets better the more advancement counters you pile onto it. Alone, with 3 strength and 1 ETR subroutine, it sits neatly between Ice Wall and Fire Wall as an afforable gearcheck that typically taxes more than 1 - exactly like Wall of Static. It is particularly taxing for a handful of breakers that boost awkwardly or break multiple subroutines at once, such as Demara and GS Sherman M3.

Unlike its predecessors, Mavingo gains additional ETR subroutines with advacement counters rather than gaining strength. Against the gold standard Corroder this is essentially equivalent, but for other breakers this is mixed news. Paperclip only starts paying more than 2 with at least 3 advancement counters, whereas the aforementioned Sherman will pay 4 for both 1 and 20 advancement counters. On the bright side, you can lock out Quetzal with a second counter, Boomerang with a third, and Spike with a fourth. Against the ever-popular Aumakua whether you prefer gaining strength versus subroutines depends on whether you want to lock the runner out or tax hir.

Masvingo hasn't really seen a great deal of love outside of Builder of Nations - where it shines from turning on your ID by having its first counter free - but with the newly released Akhet and Wall to Wall breathing new life into advanceable ice by charging them efficiently, we might be seeing it more often. I think all but the fastest Weyland decks will prefer Masvingo to Ice Wall because those counters start mattering sooner against most fracters (Corroder and Gauss). As for Fire Wall, I think these days if you're paying more than 4 for your ice it should probably come with a facecheck penalty and prevent Turning Wheel counter farming. Masvingo compares favourably to the old competition, and is probably your go-to dump for excess advancement counters.

Late to the party and happy to say that I love me some Netrunner. I tend to stick to the janky combos needing several moving parts, so with that said, here we go!

I have found Awakening Center to be a great deterrent early/mid game. They see that I have a card on it and know it is most likely something nasty, so while I have 6-9 money and until they have something out that can deal with the mystery threat, they tend to not run the server. Combine having an Enhanced Protocol out, it can usually force bad decision on the Runner, especially in a remote server with an advanced card in it. I also include Mushin No Shin, Cerebral Overwriter and Junebug in my deck, to help increase the chances for the pressure to backfire. This is a janky combo that has a few moving parts and not being a competitive player, something I am known to run, but lining it up and watching the Runner realize they must face the beast is so fun. I also run Shell Corporation just in case they don’t take the bait of the trap, raise up the money to 9+ and see what will happen.

Also, how do you link cards in your review?

I think this card is a sleeper. The fact that it's a 4/2 that isn't Nisei MK II makes it easy to discount, but it has a lot of upsides. First of all, it's 5 cards, which is a good boost to your economy. The reveal effect is slightly annoying, and clearly only there to create a slightly artificial-feeling synergy with the Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity, but you can live with it. The counter mechanic means you can pull the cards as you need them. It's not Corporate Sales Team, but it's still a significant pace advantage.

Then there's the shenanigans. As Ip87 has already pointed out, you can use this to trap the top of R&D on demand. It's not really a 'mind games' effect though, as you can fire it in the window after the runner has committed to accessing. I actually think that Jinteki trap decks would be more fun with lower variance, and this supports a move in that direction. It's more 'if I have a trap in HQ, the runner will hit it', with a consolation prize of ensuring the top of R&D is safe even if you fire speculatively and draw drunk. You can also use it to clean/trap HQ in a similar way, although given that the only place you can 'hide' agendas is on top of R&D that's often not going to be a flawless plan. I guess you could argue that's where the mind games come in. Or you could just drop an Anansi over R&D.

Another very notable synergy with this card is Political Dealings. By firing it on the runner's last click, you can stack an agenda on top of your deck to set up a reliable fast advance. This makes PolDeals a much more viable card, as you can drop it among your shell game servers and rez it only when you know the fast advance is on. This makes it comparable to a Biotic Labor, except that now the runner has to spend resources trashing it.

All of this means that Flower Sermon belongs in an entirely different deck to Nisei. Sermon gives you pace, while Nisei supports a slow, grindy game. Sermon helps with fast advance trickes while Nisei wants you to play a bunch of ice. That means that arguably, the agendas Sermon is actually up against are Fetal AI and Project Yagi-Uda. The first may be better if you're doubling down on death and don't see yourself scoring agendas that can't be never-advanced. The latter has its own, more obvious synergy with fast advance and shell games - simply being a 3/2.

This makes Flower Sermon a bit of a puzzle. It's not as good as Nisei in the Jinteki decks that are currently thought of as strong. That's why I think it's a sleeper. It will need a slightly novel deck archetype to succeed. I hope someone works it out.

<p>The synergy with Political Dealings is very real. Especially with Medical Breaktrough and Project Yagi Uda. Also note the INSANE number of 5 COUNTERS! If you don't have the influence for Daily Buisness Show in your Jinteki horizontal deck this might be a usefull tool.</p> —
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<p>I mean, it is weird to say Nat 2nd deck is not strong enough. It is an Anti-Apocalypse card too. Only if you use snare, though.</p> —

To all the confused players trying to figure bypass abilities out : The bypass effect on this card DOES NOT prevent "on encounter" abilities from firing (eg Data Raven, Toll Booth). This is due to the text "currently being encountered" on the card, making it's bypass weak compared to say Inside Job. In order for the ice to "currently be encountered" the "on encounter" effects will have already fired.

<p>Logic Bomb works this way too.</p> —
<p>Wild guess: you recently had this debate on</p> —