Most reviewers seem to like this card, so I will take the unpopular opinion:

This card is probably not worth it particularly after System Gateway.

": Gain 2" isn't a super good rate for your click, it's kind of the lowest viable rate. Cards like Telework Contract give you a net of 8 over 4 clicks (including the install), so still 2 per click on average, but the up-front cost is only 1 while The Artist costs 4 up front, only breaking even a few turns later. Security Testing also gives you two for comparison, but criminals are usually trying to stack that with things like Pennyshaver, Dirty Laundry, Red Team, DreamNet. With the artist, there is no possible way to stack anything with the "click for two credits" action. Another example is Smartware Distributor distributor -- now you can click for 3, with the caveat that it drips those credits to you over several turns. After a few turns though you are getting more bang for your buck this way than from clicking on the artist, AND the up-front install cost is zero. So why would you not rather click on that?

": Install a program or piece of hardware, paying 1 less": is also okay but not all that great. The problem is that this is hard to stack with other shaper staples like Self-modifying Code, Test Run, or Into the Depths. By comparison if you use cards like DZMZ Optimizer instead then it will reduce the cost of programs you install no matter what method you use to install them. True, this card stacks with DZMZ, but how much program cost reduction do you really need? True, this card can also reduce the cost of installing hardware, but most Shapers are not installing that much hardware right now. The Artist is probably too much influence to splash into Az McCaffrey: Mechanical Prodigy, and even then, Az McCaffrey: Mechanical Prodigy is usually trying to use things like Masterwork (v37) and Prognostic Q-Loop to install hardware clicklessly, and doesn't want to sit around clicking on the The Artist.

The card art is beautiful, but nowadays this card probably belongs in the binder. There have just been too many other better econ options printed later.

281

This review only cosiders the Startup format.

This card by itself does not overwhelm. As others suggested, put it on a remote server, that does not get run every turn for maximum profit. But then you could use a Palisade which might be better.

But this card shines with combos. If you can use it's early stopping power to score a Cyberdex Sandbox and put a Mavirus in it's root, then you do have a pretty solid card and you can use it on centrals as well. Actually, once you have Mavirus in Archives, that gets triggered whenever Archives are run, then a Sandstone on Archives is a well working tax collector.

When first looking at this card, I thought, "who cares? Its a resource version of "emergency shutdown" that has to be used on a remote server. Then I started playing it in my Leela deck, and now I understand. The fact that the derez ability is a trash effect and not click based or an event effect means that if Maxwell James is already installed, it can be used during any paid ability window. Including between when a run is considered sucessful and when Leela's "bounce an unrezzed card to HQ" ability triggers. Hence, a Leela player should always have a Maxwell James in play, as it allows you to derez a piece of ice on the corps remote server in order to taget it with Leela's "bounce and unrezzed card back to HQ" ability. That means if you have this in play, run HQ, and hit an agenda, you can derez a chosen piece of ice on their remote with maxwell james, and bump it back to HQ when Leela's ability fires.

Combine this with cards like Gangsign and HQ interface, and Leela gets Nasty real quick. It creates a passive threat that if the corp scores, you will access multiple cards from HQ with gangsigns/HQ interfaces, leading to their hessitance to score agendas with others in hand, which just continues to pile up as more agendas filter in as they draw from R+D each turn. Add to that fact that each time you do steal an agenda out of HQ, (or out of anywhere else on a turn you successfully ran HQ on a different click), you create the potential to derez and dismantle their remote server. Leaving the corp even more susceptible to Agenda pileup in HQ. Right where those sketchy ass criminals want them. Do this all early/mid game, then drop a sneakdoor beta first click, and just watch the dominoes fall. With a HQ interface or two, you certainly should be able to pull an agenda out of HQ on click 2, or at most 3. Firing the chain reaction of extra HQ acesses from gangsigns/HQ interfaces, Maxwell james derezing remote ice, leela bouncing it back to HQ, Logos tutoring a card from the runners stack.... often times in a backed up HQ, the gangsigns accesses will hit a second agenda, triggering the entire chain of effects over again.

While this certainly doesnt work every game played, it is consistently effective enough to warrant this card being 3x included in Leela decks, despite the fact that Maxwell james is unique. Because the effect is triggered by a trash ability, drawing additional copies throughout the game doesn't constitute a dead draw, but rather another opportunity to use maxwell james's effect. Say what you will, but this shady MF'er and Leela have dissasembled entire remote servers on my watch.

If anyone needs me, I'll be waiting with a breifcase in the rain....

Sure Gamble and Hedge Fund, two cards that are identical apart from which player they belong to (Sure Gamble on the runner side, Hedge Fund on the corp side) hold a special status in Netrunner (to the extent that they were reprinted in System Gateway, a set that otherwise intentionally avoided reprints). They're generally considered sufficiently better than the other cards that do the same job that they're a 3-of in the vast majority of Netrunner decks; no other cards are quite that ubiquitous (even Paperclip sometimes loses out to speciality fracters which fit the deck better, and some decks don't run fracters at all, but every deck needs economy).

Unsurprisingly, Sure Gamble has collected a range of reviews, so it's surprising that Hedge Fund's review page is fairly derelict, mostly saying "this is just Sure Gamble on the corp side". That's a pity, because as the Runner and Corp are so mechanically different, the effect of Hedge Fund and Sure Gamble on the game can be quite different from each other. Let's fix that.

Starting from the start, Hedge Fund is pretty much a pure economy card – as long as you have at least 5, you can trade your Hedge Fund and a click for four credits. This is generally considered a pretty good rate of return, and if you're running a "normal" style of deck, it's hard to match this; so in any Corp deck that wants economy, and almost all decks do, Hedge Fund is normally good enough to win itself three deck slots. However, it's worth noting that Hedge Fund is notably less powerful than Sure Gamble – Sure Gamble is often the best card in the deck it's in, whereas Hedge Fund is quite frequently beaten (but still good enough that it typically gets a deck slot anyway). Let's look at some of the reasons why:

  • The Corp has less ability to avoid dropping below 5 than the Runner does. In order to play Hedge Fund, you need to be able to play a 5 operation. Runners are normally able to avoid going very low on credits; it takes a specific sort of corp deck (nearly always in NBN) to intentionally drain the Runner's credits, whereas Diversion of Funds is a real threat that could come out of almost any Criminal deck (and if the Runner plays DofF, then you're almost certainly going to end up poor, whether from the effect of the card itself or the cost of rezzing ICE to stop it). There are entire deck archetypes based around dropping the Corp to near 0 and then taking advantage of their inability to rez or play anything to keep them there. (Incidentally, this is the same reason that Beanstalk Royalties is a lot better than Easy Mark.) So at the time you're most in need of economy, Hedge Fund doesn't help at all.

    It's also worth noting that a Runner deck that can't consistently stay above 8 or so is highly likely to die to Hard-Hitting News – Runner decks that can't make use of Sure Gamble are thus unplayable for reasons unrelated to Sure Gamble itself. There isn't a corresponding effect like this that affects Corps (the closest is Mining Accident which has a much smaller impact on the game), so it isn't always ridiculous to build a Corp deck that frequently can't scrape together the funds required for their hedges. (Indeed, with the release of Bladderwort, some Corps have been experimenting with the strategy of being consistently poor.)

  • The Corp has less ability to cheat on Hedge Fund's 5 cost. This is a more minor point, but there are plenty of Runner cards that can discount events (e.g. Prepaid VoicePAD, Patchwork, Mystic Maemi, and most recently Ghosttongue), and because the Runner's rig is fairly hard for the Corp to disturb, they can safely be installed without any special care or protection. I can't remember whether any currently legal Corp cards discount the cost of operations, but doubt any of them are being widely played – such cards would probably be assets, and assets can be pretty hard to defend for many decks.

    This means that Sure Gamble is more playable at low credit totals than Hedge Fund is.

  • Many Corp decks have some specific economic synergy available that outpaces Hedge Fund. In most Runner decks, Sure Gamble is about as efficient as you can get in terms of burst credits from a single card. On the Corp side, though, there are a lot of conditional economic operations that give you huge economic boosts as long as you're running the appropriate deck or identity. Some examples:

    • Fully Operational needs just two iced assets to give a better rate of return than Hedge Fund does – any deck that's designed around icing assets will be able to reach that point pretty early in the game.
    • NGO Front is a super-powerful economy card in Weyland Consortium: Built to Last, usable from 1 and giving a 6 profit as a double or 8 as a triple – and that's just if you use it as a pure economic operation, and you can get extra use out of it as a shell game card at the same time. (Its use as an economy card, as opposed to a shell game card, is debatable in some identities, but Built to Last's extra 2 gives it favourable numbers even when you look only at the economic use.)
    • Celebrity Gift normally gives a 7 profit as a double. In Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity, it gives 8. It does have a downside, but 8 as a double is such a large gain that Hyoubu decks benefit from being built to withstand the downside.
    • Too Big to Fail is worth 10 to The Outfit (and Hostile Takeover is worth 8 as a triple – not a bad rate of return for something that also gives you an agenda point!). There's an obvious downside, but if you're playing The Outfit, your deck is going to be based around living with that downside.
    • In decks that can protect economic assets on an ongoing basis, it's frequently possible to get 3 per turn, which makes Hedge Fund's 4 as a one-off look poor by comparison. The current way to do that is Daily Quest, although Commercial Bankers Group was also popular until it rotated.
    • In decks that can protect economic assets but only for a turn or two, Regolith Mining License gives a 13 profit over six clicks, giving a lot of economy for a small number of deck slots (and fitting very well into the typical glacier deck's plan – generally, the times at which the scoring server is free are the times at which they need economy, so when you need to use it, you can).
    • Mass Commercialization is banned nowadays, but before that, it was often worth 10-12 in an appropriate deck.

    This sort of economic combo is fairly common on the Corp side, meaning that if you're playing a Corp which has something like this available, the combo going to be your primary source of economy, and once it gets going, Hedge Fund will look more like an afterthought.

Despite all this, Hedge Fund normally ends up meriting three slots in most Corp decks, even though deck slot competition is really high there. Partly this is because Sure Gamble is one of the best cards in Netrunner, so "it's worse than Sure Gamble" isn't in itself a reason to reject a card; almost every Netrunner card is worse than Sure Gamble. Partly, it's because Hedge Fund is one of the best ways to make money quickly on turn 1, whilst leaving clicks over to do other things; if you want to be able to rez an Anansi on the Runner's first turn, or want to threaten being able to rez a hypothetical Anansi that you didn't draw, then Hedge Fund is the easiest way to reach the appropriate credit total whilst still leaving clicks to install ICE. As such, Hedge Fund's value in the early game is often high enough that it benefits even decks for which it's mostly outclassed later in the game.

The other big reason to run Hedge Fund, and something that isn't applicable to Sure Gamble at all, is that it does not have a trash cost. This means that Hedge Fund passively helps to save you from repeated R&D runs. Now, there are plenty of cards without trash costs in Netrunner, but most of them have fairly fixed roles in a deck – depending on the needs of your deck, you'll have some specific number of ICE, be able to afford a certain number of non-economic operations, and so on. Economic cards are more interchangable, and most of the best economic cards are assets or agendas, therefore trashable or stealable from R&D. Hedge Fund has the advantage of being an operation with pretty decent numbers, so you can run it in a slot that might otherwise have to go to an economic asset with a similar rate of return, and thus picking Hedge Fund over the asset helps make R&D just that little bit more secure. In Corp decks with a sufficiently strong economy, this will be the primary benefit to Hedge Fund late game – the 4 can become fairly irrelevant by that point, but the lack of a trash cost matters all game long.

The main consequences of all this are that Sure Gamble is in over 90% of Runner decks (it feels like over 99%, although some tournament results seem to disagree with this?), whereas Hedge Fund is a little lower; tournament results put it at 80-90%, which feels low to me (I would have estimated 95% or so), but there's definitely a consensus that nearly every Corp deck benefits from some Hedge Funds. Sure Gamble is so strong that very few Runner decks will want to cut it; in modern Netrunner, it's almost impossible for a Runner to have economy strong enough that Sure Gamble fails to make the cut (even if they can make credits than that more efficiently in the late-game, they probably want Sure Gamble credits to get their economy started). Hedge Fund is not quite as strong, so Corp decks which have a very powerful economy often consider cutting it. Still, it's sufficiently powerful that it often ends up meriting a deck slot in those decks, even if it's far from their best card.

It's also worth noting that neither Sure Gamble nor Hedge Fund is sufficient to be the backbone of a deck's economy by itself. Unless you start recycling them, which is slow and convoluted, Hedge Funds will give you at most 12 over the course of the game, and most decks spend a lot more than that (it isn't unheard of for decks to have credit expenditures in the triple digits). As such, new players should note that although a playset of Hedge Funds will improve all but the most unusual decks, your deck will also need to include a range of economy beside that, and the right way to build a Corp deck's economy can depend a lot on what the rest of the deck is doing. Hedge Fund may be a good card, but it won't carry a deck by itself.

Thimblerig is a surprisingly powerful code gate. Many Jinteki decks go for ICE like Aiki or Mind Game if they need a cheap code gate to pad their servers out with, but for me, I've settled on Thimblerig as my first choice. Here's why.

First off, as the reviews on its page mention, Quandary is a good ICE. Thimblerig is better than Quandary in every way other than its rez cost, and with a rez cost difference of only 1, it can do a passable imitation. Thus, putting a Thimblerig out early game forces the opponent to find some way to get through code gates.

In the early days of Netrunner, that would typically be a decoder. But times have changed, and runners have a wide variety of ways to get through ICE early on nowadays – if you try to use a code gate as a gear check nowadays, the Runner is probably more likely to bring out a Boomerang, Botulus, or Endurance than they are a Gordian Blade. These "pseudo-bypass" cards have the benefit that they don't care about the ICE type, and don't care about the ICE strength, so they're much better at stopping a rush early game than traditional breakers would be.

The genius of Thimblerig is that it's at least somewhat resistant to this sort of trick. Normally a scoring server will have multiple pieces of ICE on it; glaciers make giant scoring servers, and even rush decks usually stack multiple pieces of ICE of different types so that the runner has to find multiple breakers to get in. A common scenario is that you've rushed out an early agenda behind a gear-check barrier (say a Palisade or Ice Wall), but the Runner face-checked it and knows what ICE is there, and has their fracter out already. So you install your Thimblerig onto the same server, install and advance your second agenda, and the Runner puts a Boomerang on the unrezzed Thimblerig and runs in.

With almost any other code gate, the Runner would get in at this point, despite not having found their decoder yet. With Thimblerig, though, they get locked out; after they Boomerang their way through Thimblerig, you just swap it backwards in the same server, and now they have to get through it again – but Boomerang is single-use and they can't break the Thimblerig twice. This ability is well worth paying the extra 1 for – it comes up very frequently, and has won me a number of games. This isn't even necessarily limited to the early game; some Runners will run a nontraditional breaker suite, or have been pressed for economy the entire game and could never afford to install a permanent decoder, or don't have the MU for all the programs they want and are leaving out their decoder as the last important part, and I've even had a Thimblerig chain save the critical final agenda that would have put either of us up to seven points.

It's also worth noting that pseudo-bypass cards like Boomerang and Endurance, due to not caring about subtypes or strength, are equally good at breaking the vast majority of ICE. So a Thimblerig is doing pretty well in terms of "effort for you to rez vs. effort for them to break"; you could have spent twice or three times as much and had just as much impact on the Runner (or indeed less – most ICE can't force the Runner to encounter it a second time in the same run).

The other great advantage of Thimblerig is that it's a gear check that isn't dead even once the Runner has their decoder up and running. Apart from its usefulness in forcing a decoder install, it can do a separate job, tending to your servers and ensuring that all the ICE is in the optimal places. Often the best short-term placement for ICE is different from the best long-term placement, and Thimblerig bridges that gap, allowing you to (gradually, over time) fix placement decisions that were necessary at the time but suboptimal for the ongoing game.

Finally, Thimblerig has the strange property, unusual for gear checks, that (depending on what deck the opponent is running) it is actually occasionally taxing. The best you can normally hope for with a "cheap" piece of ICE (2 to rez) is that you're taxing the Runner 3 per run. For example, IP Block, which specialises in taxing centrals runs and is one of the best cheap pieces of ICE for the purpose, typically takes 3 to run through (less if the Runner has link) – and yet it is very bad as a gear check, being passable with no breakers at all. Thimblerig is 1 to break with many breakers, as you'd expect from a gear check, but Black Orchestra, one of the most commonly used decoders in Anarch decks, requires 3 to break a Thimblerig. This occasionally makes it possible to make Anarchs' centrals runs very taxing even when you don't have much money to rez ICE with: a Thimblerig plus two pieces of unrezzed ICE cost a total of 5 (2 in rez costs + 3 in install costs) and will tax an Anarch who relies on Black Orchestra 9 per run, which is an incredibly good ratio between the server setup cost and the break cost.

The main drawback of Thimblerig is that it has competition from gear checks that are designed to stop different sorts of shenanigans from those that Thimblerig prevents – in particular, a Thimblerig chain will force a Botulus to take a break every now and then in order to run its server repeatedly, but a Magnet will prevent the Botulus getting in at all. Magnet is also much more resistant to Aumakua. This means that if you're really trying to force a decoder install using cheap ICE, you probably want to be mixing Thimblerigs and Magnets. (At least they're only one influence each.) However, Thimblerig is still decently good at forcing the Runner's decoder to come out, which is something that will benefit almost any Corp deck due to the way in which it slows the Runner's deck down; you're making them find their decoder and pay to install it, and even if that's all the Thimblerig ever does, it has probably paid for itself. If it subsequently helps you put your ICE into improved positions, or maybe fixes damage done by Tāo, it has definitely more paid for itself. After all, it only cost 2 in the first place!