If tagging the runner is an essential part of your gameplan, or you're in Reality+, this is a very cost-effective ice. It usually cause a 3-4 credit swing, which is great for a 2-cost ice. If you're in Reality+, this is one of the most cost-effective ices to raise the costs on trashing a non-essential asset. E.g. if you install an Authenticator on a Rashida turn 1, they could take a tag to bypass, but that adds something like a click and a 4-credit swing to trashing Rashida.

You could also risk an early agenda behind Authenticator. If the runner is not likely to check, maybe AR-Enhanced Security. If the runner is likely to check, maybe Quantum Predictive Model.

Authenticator doesn't solve all of the problems that Funhouse has -- when a runner has already decided to go tag-me, this ice doesn't do anything but add a tenth tag and won't stop their desperate scramble to steal the last agenda. BUT it only costs $2 and it has much much early value than Funhouse does. It doesn't take a tempo hit to rez Authenticator.

Ansel 1.0 is an attractive, if expensive, sentry with fairly high strength and a nasty facecheck.

For this review we will focus on the startup format, which is my preferred format right now.

Points in favor:

  • 3 impactful subs, so even if the runner Boomerang's it, they likely have to spend a click as well.
  • Similarly, resists Botulus for the same reason
  • 4 STR is a sweetspot for sentry strength right now, putting it just out of range of Mimic, and forcing Odore to pay 6 to raise strength to match.
  • Runners using Echelon likely also need to pay to raise strength, costing 6 to break total
  • Runners using Bukhgalter need to pay 6 outright, and 4 net if they get the bonus
  • Runners using Afterimage need to pay 1 stealth to raise strength and 2 credits to break
  • Because this is a bioroid, it makes Ravana 1.0 much nastier once it is rezzed. In a Haas-Bioroid: Architects of Tomorrow deck you are almost certainly going to play Ansel 1.0.

Points against:

  • Costs 6 to rez. For 6 credits, you could also rez Brân 1.0. Brân 1.0 also has 3 impactful subs and ends the run. It will usually cost the runner more credits to break this ice, whether they are on Corroder or Cleaver, or at least, they will need a lot of Leech counters or something. This leads into the next point.
  • A runner with Ice Carver, which is many Anarchs and some Criminals nowadays, reduces STR to 3, and now it is in range of Mimic, substantially cheaper to break with Odore, or Echelon. At this point the rez-to-break ratio doesn't look so good anymore.
  • Because it costs so much to rez, this ice has a tendency to get Chisel Charm'ed, or Tranquilized, or Shutdown. That can be a significant tempo hit to the corp.

As a result, this ice falls into sort of an odd niche:

  • It isn't quite as nasty of a facecheck as something like Hagen, which can't be clicked through, but it is substantially more expensive
  • It doesn't fall off in strength quite as badly as Hagen does, but it is very likely that a runner will be able to break this for relatively cheap in the late game
  • In particular, it doesn't really have the staying power of Brân 1.0, or nastier sentries like Archer.

My take is this:

Most runners won't facecheck ice unless, they have a killer out, or they can Boomerang it or put a Botulus on it with two counters, or they have no cards on the board to trash yet. Against HB, they also usually won't run last click.

Because of this, the first subroutine will almost never fire, and then it is a toss-up whether the second or third will fire, if either.

Therefore, I tend to view this card sort of like a very big Drafter.

If you are running a deck with

then Ansel 1.0 may do a lot of work. E.g. a runner doing a Khusyuk run really must break not only the third sub but also the second sub, or you will re-install Crisium Grid just in time before they reach R&D.

If your deck already has 3 Drafter it might make sense to run an Ansel 1.0 or two, particularly because stacking Ansel 1.0 and Drafter makes Bukhgalter less efficient.

If the second sub isn't likely to do very much in your deck, you might want to consider a different ice IMO.

Magnet is versatile and very effective. Spending $3 for an end-the-run ice that usually costs $3 to break is very reasonable. And it comes with a useful ability! 25% of players are using Botulus (as of October 2021), plus occasional Chisels and Tranquilizers.

It's borderline playable on remotes and one of the better neutral ices available. It's a 3-cost ice that'll cost most runners 3 to get through (on a remote). It's a total desperation move to use this on a central server. (3-cost for a 1-credit impact is terrible and you are feebly trying to buy time for any sort of real solution). Ice which can only be used in one role are usually not desirable. Some alternatives to consider:

  • Magnet. 3-cost, 3-credit impact, but can be used effectively on any server and it has a useful ability against hosted programs.
  • Hagen. 4-cost, 4-credits against a lone Paperclip and messes with early Rezekis and support programs. Excellent in formats where Paperclip is not allowed.
  • Authenticator, if you care about tags. 2-cost, 3-4 credit impact or a tag.
  • Gold Farmer (only in System Gateway, it's removed in Standard). Palisade is a barrier which on *some* servers can cause *as much as* 3 credits of damage. For the same cost, Gold Farmer almost always hits for 4+ credits on any server, and it is truly outlandish in GameNET. It also holds up much better against Boomerang/Botulus.
  • Karuna. Costs 4, usually causes a 3+ credit swing, and more flexible than Palisade in server placement. The early game facecheck value is useful also.
  • Whitespace has a larger impact early and can be played on any server.
  • Vanilla costs 0 and works better in the early gearcheck role, particularly in situations where you need so much speed budgeting $3 is hard and the game will be short enough that Palisade's value-over-time does not matter as much. Liability: Does not handle Aumakua matchup well.
  • Hydra!? Not comparable to a 3-cost ice, but a fun ETR. It costs 10 and usually has a 6-8 credit impact. However, if it hits on face-check, it only costs you $5 (though you still need $10 available to rez).

"THE VALIANT DO NOT HESITATE." Forget Tyr, Vanilla is an ice for the bold and the daring. Do not hesitate. Install this and GO. There is no late game potential here. There is only boldness, and tempo seized. The runner will have a handful of cards in their deck that can get through Vanilla and early on there's a good chance that they won't be able to afford them and/or won't have drawn them yet*.

*If they have 3 cards which can break Vanilla, there's a 70% chance Vanilla will beat their first 5 cards and 46% it will beat their first 10 cards. Even if they manage to draw one, Paperclip is expensive and committing Botulus/Boomerang to a Vanilla is inefficient. (If the runner needs to spend $3 and 2 clicks to trash an early Rashida, depending on their economic situation it might be better to not run).