Why was this card ever printed. What was FFG thinking?

Strong tag-me cards do not make for enjoyable Netrunner. When Liza Talking Thunder faces a tag-n-bag corp, she loses in a boring game... either she dies to a BOOM or she has to refrain from using half the cards in her deck. When Liza faces a corp with no tag punishment, she runs them over in an equally unbalanced game.

The principle is simple: the tag-me archetype cannot co-exist with tag-n-bag... otherwise Netrunner devolves into rock-paper-scissors. I don't understand how a competent game designer could either fail to appreciate this or be indifferent to it.

<p>WotC? Now I'm confused, didn't FFG have the license up until Reign and Reverie? WotC hasn't published any Netrunner since the original game, unless I've messed up my history...</p> —
<p>Oy. Yes, my bad.</p> —
<p>They thought people would remove the tags - hence cards like the Thunder Art Gallery. She was even quite fun to play like that, although fairly weak. The problem wasn't self-tagging cards, it was the 'tags are good' cards. I'd rather have seen Counter Surveillance go than Liza.</p> —

The most distinctive feature of this card is that it is an end-the-run Sentry -- and the only hard end-the-run sentry that Weyland has in startup. It's also fairly splashable at 2 inf.

However it has a bunch of drawbacks:

  • Rez to break ratio varies a lot depending on exactly what killer the runner is on. But 5 to rez is not that cheap. Bukhgalter will break it for 2 with the discount, and Mimic + one leech counter or ice carver breaks it for 1.
  • Only one sub. This means it is broken once per turn by a Botulus. This makes this not such a great card to play vs. Loup for instance.

In startup format, Weyland decks often prefer to play sentries like Winchester and Colossus.

Colossus costs one more and gives you an extra sub, so they can only break it every other turn with Botulus. (But still porous to Boomerang.) And it gains strength, so it may give Anarchs on mimic a much harder time.

Winchester costs one less to rez and gives you 3 subs when over HQ, so it is more expensive for killers across the board, and isn't completely broken by Boomerang.

This may be an interesting card to splash into corps that don't have strong sentries. For instance, this might find home in an NBN deck, because for many startup NBN decks, the only sentry they run is F2P, which can be broken without a killer. Runners that decide to skip installing their killer may run straight into Ballista, and then lose a program. That may be attractive to Reality+ decks that already want to destroy programs. In this way, this ice affects the meta when running against Reality+, whether or not the corp actually runs Ballista.

The main risk with running this ice is that it's going to weaken your corp against Anarchs generally, whether they are on botulus or not, since you will pay 5 to rez it but they may break it for a lot less than 5, resulting in a significant tempo hit.

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<p>-1 OR 2+14-14-1=0+0+0+1 --</p> —
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<p>-1" OR 2+885-885-1=0+0+0+1 --</p> —
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The question you have to ask yourself before putting this card in your deck is, why not just play another ice instead?

If I simply draw another ice, instead of this card, I can install it for one click, and whatever the install cost is. There are some benefits:

  • I can install the ice in a remote if I want
  • The runner doesn't know what ice it is

With this card, you get to tutor exactly the ice you want, so e.g. if you really want an Afshar on HQ at the beginning, this is like a 4th Afshar.

The "paying 3 less" aspect of this card seems less interesting. If you are playing this as your 4th card that can become an Afshar, then the install cost is probably very low. You are also paying 1 to play this card, and a click. So this is not very much of an economy card at all in terms of saving on install costs -- efficient economy cards are giving you at least 3 credits for your click reliably.

So, the only reason to play this card is if your deck really needs to have particular ice in particular places on HQ, R&D, etc. in order for your strategy to work, and you want 4th, 5th copies of this ice to ensure you can get it there early. At 3 influence this also can't really be splashed outside of Weyland.

This seems like a niche-enough effect that I don't expect this to see a lot of play. But it may be a nice one of in some BTL deck, where it can help respond to e.g. Stargate coming down or something like this.

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You are not going to kill the runner with this card.

The damage condition is to score the agenda while the runner is tagged, which isn't so simple. The runner normally acquires tags from running; this is well-known. With years of meat damage in the game's history, runners have learned not to take tags for fear of damage. There's a saying "never run click 4" because the runner wants to be able to clear unexpected tags after a run ends.

If the runner chooses to ignore tags, they are aware that meat damage is a likely consequence, and so they'll choose cards that do damage prevention in that situation.

The runner can also take tags on the corp's turn, most likely with the new Public Trail. This allows the corp to do powerful things without giving the runner the chance to remove the tags. This power is still very limited, though.

So if you want to deal damage with Orbital Superiority, you need one of these situations:

  • The runner ignores tags, and also doesn't have any way to prevent your damage. This would be really silly, since cards that do meat damage when tagged are common. I suppose it could happen with inexperienced players. So the tag condition is met, and you just need to score the 4/2 normally.
  • The runner made mistakes and ended their turn with a tag - they plan to clear the tag next turn. So you need to install the 4/2 and score it, all within 3 clicks. Or you needed to have the 4/2 already installed and long since ignored, so that it lies in wait. This would have to look like a failed trap, and then you still need something like Seamless Launch to get 4 advancements in 1 turn.
  • You plan to give tags during your turn. So you need to play Public Trail or whatever, and then install and score this 4/2 with your last 2 clicks.

All of these situations are fairly convoluted and unlikely. Each of them is possible, yes... but that's a whole lot of work to execute your plan which is totally foiled by the high-tech runner strategy of... having 5 cards in hand.

And in all of these situations, it would have been easier and more effective to play BOOM! instead.

So you're not going to kill with Orbital. What should you do with it instead?

In the exceedingly unlikely scenario that you get the damage dealt, the runner most likely loses 4 cards from hand. That's okay! They lost tempo. That's good for you. But False Lead (3/2), and every Jinteki agenda, also make the runner lose tempo while being easier to score and inflict their effects much more reliably.

But most likely you will score it normally and give the runner a tag. If you're playing NBN: Reality Plus, that's... fine. The runner is tagged and you get 2 credits (or 2 cards) back. Analysing this as tempo, that's about 5 credits of tempo in your direction, though your own bank account is still at a net negative after scoring. For comparison, Offworld Office gives you 7 credits directly no matter which ID you're playing, making you straightaway credit positive.

If you score Orbital with clicks left, you can enact some tag punishment, though if you're playing Startup format then the only punishment available is Predictive Planogram and Retribution.

This card is trying to do several things, and does none of them well. In each situation it is outclassed by another card. Operations are much better at killing, and many agendas are better at swinging the tempo in your favour or giving you better rewards or annoying the runner. Despite the temptations of this card, it's best to leave it aside.

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Odd card. It looks like a single-use agenda which sits idle most of the game. In actuality, it's a value-over-time agenda which restricts the runner's options every turn it's available and one of the few agendas I'd happily bankrupt myself to score early. Scoring 1-2 False Leads makes everything else you do as a corp much stronger because any run could bring on a game-losing Hard-Hitting News they won't have the clicks to clear. Alternately, the Border Controls you're already running in Weyland (or a spicy Anoetic Void) may be able to leverage a False Lead into scoring a winning 5/3 in a window that doesn't otherwise exist.

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