Burner: Single handedly forcing Corps to ice up HQ first against Shapers

Functionally Burner is similar to but much less random than Embezzle trading the ability to have an insane upside that Embezzle has with, umm, being a fantastic card. There really isn't much downside to this card beyond it being a little less damaging when your opponent has a Spin Doctor or some other instant speed ability to manipulate RnD (and even then you playing Burner forces the use of these cards).

The important three points when playing Burner is that it is always guaranteed to do some damage, it does so in a way that dodges traps or Oppo Research and that said damage is controlled. If you were to legwork into HQ and see 3 Ice or Operations, that would obviously be a wiff. Even with tools like Imp added in you might trash the "objectively incorrect" card because you are seeing the cards one at a time and might waste the imp on the wrong card. And if you legworked into 2 Snare! and a Fujii Asset Retrieval you are probably heading home in a body bag.

Burner gets around both these issues by showing you all 3 of your choices at the same time and giving you full control of where they go, top or bottom, which can be different (top the Agenda, bottom the Oppo Research ). It also does this without needing to combo with any other cards, hence a Shaper Aniccam event heavy deck running this card would have excellent HQ pressure that must be respected, even with no other HQ cards. And even with just a Twinning, Burner plus Twinning on a standard 5 card hand Corp will let you see and steal everything, which is great fun all around.

All up a fantastic Shaper card. At 3 inf it is a bit difficult to import but it is still possible for other factions. And if you as the Corp leave HQ open on the Runner's first click you have to be aware that you might be signing up to get all your fun tools chucked to the bottom of the deck.

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The other review does a great job of giving you the gist of Banner, just wanted to point out that currently in standard, there are only three barriers that start at above 5 strength, Hagen (and banner alone drops that to 5), Sandstone (will auto drop to 5 when you encounter it) and Bran 1.0 (actually a problem). So by default, there is only one barrier that you won't be able to melt at the fixed strength. There are some that can increase strength, like Pharos, Logjam and Ice Wall, but besides pharos most of these should not get too high in strength, and a Leech Can get you through just fine. Do beware if this is your only fracter that ice like Hakarl 1.0 or Blockchain will still fire their non-ETR subroutines, which can be seriously punishing, so either bring a backup or accept that you are occasionally going to really eat it with banner.

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Current Startup (Liberation Cycle + SU21 + System Gateway) gives an interesting example of how all card analysis is contextual. It's generally accepted that Earthrise Hotel is the better neutral draw option when compared to Verbal - dnddmdb's review offers a more in-depth look than mine, but it's not dead in multiples, it's faster, and it's clickless. This means, especially if your deck has other draw or card selection pieces, it compares very well to Verbal - using Earthrise to draw into more draw means even in the long run you're likely to keep up with what Verbal would have offered. There are other tradeoffs (deck slots being the main one), but having more draw also means you're likely to see card draw early, compared to if you're just on Verbal (owing to the fact it somewhat doesn't synergise - if you have a lot of burst draw then you're unlikely to be clicking to draw a lot) and don't draw it until too late.

However, in the current Startup card pool, criminals have effectively no in-faction draw options - the only in faction card which says "draw" on it is Chrysopoeian Skimming, and you're definitely not playing it because it says draw a card! They have a handful of tutors in Meeting of Minds and Mutual Favor, but if you're playing a Crim deck that wants consistent draw (Ken and Mercury both offer incentives for event-heavy decks, for example), options are scarce. Either you go out of faction and spend a lot of influence, or you turn to neutral cards. There's also the admittedly anecdotal evidence that so far this meta feels slower, though that's hard to judge given we're not far in and this was based off the experience of a couple of us at a single local tournament.

Given these things, Verbal suddenly looks more enticing - the density of draw effects being so low means that you are going to be clicking to draw a lot unless you fork over most of your influence for burst draw. Event decks especially have a pretty constant demand for draw - when most of your money and tricks are one-time things, you'll always need more. Ashen Epilogue is also burst draw and recycling, which is both desirable in event decks (reshuffle to get a more event-dense deck since your installables are on board, and a chance to replay high-impact events) and something that further advantages a long-term draw option - it's both not getting shuffled back in to dilute your deck and helps you get through your stack faster. It's not a massive gain, since most of the time your one shot draw options will also be reshuffled, but the gap between Verbal and Earthrise is small enough that I'm counting it as a meaningful point in favour. While it's not a slam dunk "every Startup Crim should be on Verbal", it is a situation where the usual wisdom that Earthrise is always better doesn't hold, because the reasoning behind it comes from a different context where draw is more abundant. I still wouldn't run just Verbal, because you want other draw to help find it early, and sometimes you'll still need a lot of burst draw, but I think it beats out Earthrise for Event-heavy Criminals in Startup.

To go on a little tangent, this is one of my favourite things about Netrunner, and one of the main things I use to guide my brewing, deckbuilding, and spoiler season card analysis - when looking at a card instead of (or as well as) going "This other card is better", I ask "What sort of deck or meta would make this card sing?" - the answers can lead you to surprising places, and trying out things you might not have otherwise considered. Even if the answer turns out to be "This isn't the deck/meta that this card might work in" or even "I don't think such a deck or meta exists/could exist", the act of thinking about and playing with a range of decks and cards to try and make things work deepens your understanding and appreciation of the game. Plus, sometimes you'll find a diamond in the rough - there are cards I've definitely overlooked on release only to come back to to a few sets later and find all the pieces are there now!

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I noticed this is the only card in System Gateway without a review so here goes: This is a bad card.

Let’s look at all the ways this card is bad. Firstly, we know exactly how much spending a card to draw two cards is worth to the Corp - Zero. That is how much it costs to rez Spin Doctor. The ancillary benefit of having +2 maximum hand size isn’t even as useful as Spin Doctor’s ability to shuffle cards from Archives back into your deck since that can be used to recur your best cards as well as to save you from agenda flood. Superconducting Hub might save you from agenda flood if you can spend 4 and 3 on it and don’t get it or your other agendas stolen in the meantime…

Even worse for Superconducting Hub is that for the Corp drawing cards later in the turn is bad. Especially bad is putting this down one turn and scoring it the next as it potentially ups the Agenda count in your hand just before the runner’s turn. This happens to also make scoring it from hand a lot worse, which is not a great place for a 3-advancement Agenda to be in. If you can’t score it quickly, then it may as well be a 4/2 as you will be leaving it out for a turn anyway so you may as well get another point for just one more credit.

Sadly, Superconducting Hub just feels like a design miss. A neutral 3/1 shouldn’t be a strong agenda, but it should at least be a role player in some decks. An Agenda like False Lead would have been perfect as the always-available neutral. You don’t want it for most decks but when you do it plays a role nothing else can. Instead we have a card that provides at most a marginal advantage and sometimes can actively hurt you. That won’t see it played much if at all.

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This agenda exists pretty specifically for Earth Station: SEA Headquarters. When running Earth Station, you can force a 6 credit tax on your remote, but the runner can disable it by running HQ. You can do your best to ensure a crucial HQ run will be more than six credits, but runners have a lot of tricks for easy HQ accesses. S-Dobrado can let them skip two ice, while Inside Job (which works on all servers not just centrals) only does one. Backstitching can cut through your ice if HQ is the mark. Sneakdoor Beta can just absolutely devastate your taxing HQ, and while they might not be able to use their events when sneakdooring, they are very capable of flipping your identity. Transport Monopoly gives you the ability to force them to need to hit HQ twice on two different turns to flip your ID, or just eat the six cred cost when normally they wouldn't. Crisium Grid serves a similar purpose, but this being an agenda has drawbacks and benefits. It can be stolen while Crisium has to be trashed at a decent cost, but being an agenda, it can't be trashed at all. Once you score it, it exists, and you don't have to use it on non-crucial turns. Putting down a Crisium might save you once, but if the runner skips that turn to run and trashes it next turn, it's gone. If they don't run with Transport Monopoly up, you just keep the charge.

Outside of Earth Station, its use is more limited. You may be able to prevent game-winning Legwork or stop a Burner from bottom decking all your economy, but you can't guarantee it'll happen every game. Not useless, but far more of a kind of meta call.

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