With our good friend Jackson Howard rotating out. NBN (and possibly others) are going to want to protect their most vulnerable items from being lost in the archives. It's not at all unlikely that Miss Shannon Claire will be put up to the challenge of handling such tasks. Also she's a handy response to an Indexing, allowing the corp to shuffle away the stacked deck in a jiffy.

Sadly, by using her, the runner knows exactly where the important cards are now.

So this might seem nearly useless, but if the meta shifts towards using Shannon for Jackson-like abilities, see this as a tech card to turn to in a pinch to assure that victory.

Also Wampoa Reclamation... but the issue is that at three influence it's hard to splash. —

So FF wanted to include a neutral 3/1 agenda in the new core set, which is probably a reasonable goal given that Core Set 1.0 HB was forced to have 1 more agenda point than it needed, which was poor game design. In general having an extra 1 pointer just gives new players more flexibility, which is probably the point.

There were 4 agendas they could have chosen from, assuming they didn't want to design a new card: Veterans Program, Profiteering, Chronos Project and False Lead (original page with reviews).

Veterans Program is too niche, and 2.0 includes Elizabeth Mills anyway.

Profiteering I would have preferred to False Lead. I think new corp players would have liked to have the credits trading that for essentially giving the runner 3 credits every turn thereafter. Until Lizzy comes along anyway. Certainly it's not overpowered, but FF decided False Lead was preferable.

Chronos Project would have been my pick for sure, but was probably excluded due to FF considering it OP going forward. I suspect they want the runner's heap to be more involved in the game and don't want the corp to have a blanket way of removing it from the game. Shame though, I'll miss it.

So that leaves us with False Lead. The card that won out. The original page gives a list of possible uses. In core set the best use would be in HB to stop the runner from clicking through to score even more points, but I still think that's a niche case for 3/1.

Beyond core set there are better 3/1 agendas for this to be in any way relevant. I guess FF though this was the only option for this slot in the set, and they are probably right, but for players new and old it's mostly irrelevant. For new players, only include it if you need the 1 point to make the minimal agenda points for a valid deck, and buy a datapack with better agendas as soon as you can.

Oh, I think it does have it's role in Core Set 2.0 only beginner games. Just tag the runner during the run with a Hunter or Raven, then False Lead away their clicks so they can't remove the tags and scorch them. This agenda basically says 'run 2nd click and I kill you' in Weyland, which is an okay effect for a Core Set card. It teaches you to watch your clicks and be on guard for killing options. —
I'm an idiot and Scorch has rotated, just ignore me :D —
But Chronos doesn't rotate yet, it's from the lunar cycle. And I think that the use of "you can't take that tag out unless you're in clic 1" can be nice even if the only fear is to Close Accounts or your resources being dumped. —

With Jackson Howard rotated out this has gone from nigh-unplayable to extremely reliable wincon. If you have the resources to pull off two or three R&D runs in a row it's prettymuch GG. If you pull one of these off and don't see the agendas to stack the deck with, it still serves as reliable information to go fishing in HQ instead. Even if you fail to see things you want to steal you still get the chance to guide your opponent's next few draws.

Now that Jackson Howard is gone I don't think Deep Data Mining or Maker's Eye stand up to this. While they provide similar effects they're both more expensive to run, with Deep Data Mining requiring a rig built around maximizing MU and Maker's Eye not pulling as much information. While they both allow you a glimpse into the future, Indexing alone lets you change it. Against players running ambushes DDM and ME may end up getting you killed, while Indexing wont.

Adding "Freedom Through Equality" or Mad Dash to the mix makes this even crazier.

Unplayable through Jackson? In my experience, Indexing was one of the most heavily played Shaper forms of R&D pressure. —
With every deck running 3 of Jackson and his ability to RFG to force a shuffle on R&D before your next run is successful, the information and scoring opportunity provided by Indexing was preventable if he was anywhere on the table. Knowing every deck out there is packing three-of a card that counters this one made it a poor choice over Maker's Eye. —
Of course that is just my opinion, based on what I played and what the people I played against used. Museum's prevalence didn't help it either. —

Now that the rotation is happening and Core 2.0 is shaking the meta, Merger is in an interesting spot. Most factions do not have 2 sets of 3/2 agendas anymore (except Jinteki if you count Medical Breakthrough) and with SanSan City Grid gone, fast advance (FA) will be harder to pull of. This also means that it is less likely that everyone plays Clot. In the right meta FA HB or NBN (maybe even Weyland) with Merger might work. Slot a set 5/3 together with the factions 3/2 and Merger and you have a nice FA setup requiring the Runner to steal 3 agendas instead of 4 with the usual Global Food Initiative setup most other corps use.

How strong it will be is hard to say and depends heavily on the meta that will develope after rotation but I will definitly try if Merger FA works.

Revised Core gave all the corp factions one set of 3/2s from the genesis cycle. It still totally has a place in a FA deck, but it's totally still got competition. —

I've played this card for a bit and wanted to share some observations. It's one of the more generically strong Anarch cards of the Red Sand cycle; it's just a good card and doesn't require a special self-damage or tag-me archetype. It's the new mini Vamp and much more fair in design.

What's Mining Accident good at? The bad pub from it makes running super efficient. In particular, the conspiracy breakers (Paperclip, Black Orchestra, MKUltra) are a solid breaker suite which benefit from bad pub. Bad pub contributes to install costs as well as break costs. Also, Blorchestra and MK have very high minimum expenditures; even the cheapest code gates and sentries cost 3. Cutting that down to 2 or 1 real s pays off quickly when making repeated runs.

MA is good early because a central is typically open and the corp cannot afford to lose 5; it opens them up to too many vulnerabilities (Medium, Account Siphon, etc.) & pushes them further away from IPO's play cost. Basically, being set behind your whole opening credit pool is cannot be endured on turn 2 or 3.

People will lean towards playing MA in Valencia because the words "bad publicity" appear on the Valencia ID. I don't think the card needs to stay there but the nice thing about Val is you expect to already have bad pub. Val is great for run-based tactics so cards like Dirty Laundry, Desperado, and Street Peddler (because you can install during a run) are a natural fit. Finally, without Blackmail, I don't see any corp bothering to play bad pub removal. It's just not worth the tech slots & there are far worse things to worry about.

When's MA bad? When the corp is rich & can just lose 5 without much harm, when it's late in the game & giving a bad pub isn't consequential, when all central servers are ICEd up & meeting its condition becomes expensive. It's bad quite often, which is why it's a balanced card.

I think the cheese bad pub spam strategies featuring Itinerant Protesters are going to be bad, interesting jank but not competitive. For one, Alice, Hacktivist, & Maw already attack corp hand sizemore effectively. Hack & Maw in particular are random discards which makes them quite valuable post-Jackson. For two, as I've learned playing against those cards, the correct move as corp is often to just empty your hand of useful cards & play in topdeck mode. It's not great but it's also not so bad that building a runner strategy around it is worthwhile.

Of course right after I wrote this, Siphon & Medium surprise rotated out. I think a corp still can't afford to dip too low in credits really early but the punishment is less severe now. —