If you’re like me then I'm sure you've wondered: what is the point of this card? Let’s start with some simple stories

The Corp has 1 agenda in hand. If the Runner breaches HQ their chances of accessing that agenda is 1/5; their chances of accessing something else are 4/5

If the Runner instead plays Glut Cipher, the chances that the Corp will discard the agenda among the 10 cards is 50%. An easy way to see how this is the case is to walk through how the trashed cards would be chosen: with my friends we have the Corp shuffle the cards and then hold 5 cards in one hand and 5 cards in the other. Runner chooses a hand and the Corp discards those cards. The chances that the hand they discard contains the 1 agenda is of course, 1/2.

Curious, but not our most interesting story. Let’s try another.

The Corp has 2 agendas in hand. If the Runner breaches HQ their chances of accessing one of those agendas are 2/5; their chances of accessing something else are 3/5

If the Runner instead plays the cipher, the chances that the Corp will discard at least one of the two agendas among the 10 cards is 78%. How do we get this number? When the Corp adds cards from Archives into HQ the order the cards sit in in their hand(s) will be random - each card has a chance of being one of the 5 shuffled into the hand that will be trashed. We can then think of it sequentially: the chances that the first card they trash will be one of the two agendas is 2/10; their chances of trashing something else are 8/10. If they don’t trash one of the two agendas in that first instance, the chances that the next card they will discard is an agenda is 2/9; the chances of trashing something else are 7/9; and so on.

2/10 (8/10)

2/9 (7/9)

2/8 (6/8)

2/7 (5/7)

2/6 (4/6)

In other words, the Runner has 5 shots at trashing one of the 2 agendas among the 10 cards, their chances increasing with every missed shot. To determine the odds of them trashing at least one of those two agendas across those 5 shots we multiply the probabilities of the Runner missing those shots together. 8/10 * 7/9 * 6/8 * 5/7 * 4/6 = 2/9, or ~.22. Then we multiply .22 by 100 to arrive at a 22% chance that in those 5 shots we do not trash one of those two agendas, which means that the inverse, 78%, is the chance that we do trash at least one of those two agendas.

(You can do the same math with the 1 agenda example above and you’ll come to 1/2, 50%.)

Run the numbers again with 3 agendas in HQ and your chances of trashing at least 1 agenda increase to 92% (7/10 * 6/9 * 5/8 * 4/7 * 3/6 = 1/12 or ~.08 )

Interesting, no? But what does it all mean?

Glut Cipher is akin to Information Sifting. Unlike that card however, which improves with the more cards the Corp has in hand, the cipher improves when the Corp has less cards in hand. It also scrambles their plans, though of course it allows them to retrieve something useful as well.

(All of this assumes the Corp has 5 cards to pick up from Archives of course - running Glut Cipher when the Corp has no cards to pick up will obviously accomplish little.)

Now, what are the chances that in the 2 agendas in HQ scenario you will trash both of the agendas? I have no idea. My math skills are not that advanced - I don’t even know if what I wrote above is correct.

<p>In the 2-agenda scenario there is a 22% chance that you trash 0 agendas and a 78% chance that you trash at least 1. The cases where you trash both will be a subset of the cases where you trash at least 1. Let's name the agendas A and B, and assume that we know you will trash A at some point. It doesn't actually matter whether you trash A first or last, either way you will trash 4 cards that are not A, and we want the probability that one of them will be B. You have a 8/9 * 7/8 * 6/7 * 5/6 chance of missing B 4 times. This is ~56%, which means that conditional on trashing 1 agenda, there's a 44% chance you also trash the other agenda. Multipling 78% by 44% yields a ~34% chance you get both.</p> —

Normally, I only write reviews for cards I've played. This one, though, I haven't played, and there's a good reason for that.

Instead, I'm writing this review to say: if you ever considered playing this, play Retribution instead. It's the same influence cost (but a different faction), and costs 1 more to trash programs and hardware (and 2 more to trash resources because you have to use the basic action); but it doesn't require keeping the Runner below 6, and it doesn't require spending the tag. So in effect, Observe and Destroy saves the Runner , 2 (unless they're going tag-me, which is probably a bad idea if your deck contains this sort of tag punishment card), making it more expensive than Retribution in basically all circumstances. And, well, the requirement to keep the Runner below 6 is a very hard one to satisfy nowadays, especially with Closed Accounts having rotated.

The only niches Observe and Destroy might have over Retribution would therefore be a) as a flexible punishment card that gains value when the Runner goes tag-me (the problem is, it doesn't gain very much value, only a credit or two, and your deck would have to keep the Runner under 6 permanently for this to be worth it); b) if you have some sort of jank combo that requires trashing your own installed cards (but you can do this way more cheaply than spending a card and a click and a tag and keeping the Runner poor; and if you're willing to spend clicks+cards to trash your own cards, why not just overinstall them?); or c) you're in NBN and can't even spare the 1 influence for Retribution (I guess this is just about possible).

You can imagine the only sort of deck that could want this, therefore; something that's in NBN, tag-heavy, and tries to keep the Runner poor (maybe Spark Agency or SYNC). But those decks don't normally want program/hardware trashing anyway; if you're keeping the Runner poor and getting the tags to stick, your deck is already on the point of winning, and you'd prefer something that's better at actually closing out a game. It's also rare for that style of deck to become particularly tight on influence (frequently it can fit High-Profile Target despite the five-dot cost), so probably you'd be able to afford to fit a Retribution or two if you preferred that mechanism of winning the game.

Another similar card that's worth mentioning is Keegan Lane. This has a very similar effect to Observe and Destroy, and the same cost, but different timing (and no 6 restriction). However, Keegan Lane is much better; the reason is that it's much easier to get a tag to stick mid-run (e.g. Ping, Thoth, Turnpike, maybe even Funhouse) than it is to tag the Runner on your own turn. Using Keegan to trash a single icebreaker normally isn't game-winning on its own; but with a little bluffing/mind-games, you can often use Keegan to trash the opponent's killer while they're locked into encountering a destroyer, and get two or more trashes for your single tag. Keegan Lane is therefore quite a good card – but despite that, it's still a pretty niche effect that normally needs a deck built around it. Observe and Destroy has much less upside, and is also much harder to connect with; so given that it's this much worse than a highly niche card, and is also pretty much entirely outclassed by a 1-influence card from another faction, it really isn't surprising that it isn't very strong. So even if you do somehow have a deck that's a perfect fit for Observe and Destroy, it nevertheless won't be doing enough for you to be worth the deck slot.

Don't play Observe and Destroy.

Since somehow nobody’s written a review of this, and I’m playing around with constructing Startup decks, I thought I’d do a side-by-side comparison of how it stacks up against Corroder in the format, since deck construction will likely have you choosing between the two, even outside of Anarch.



TL;DR: They’re very comparable, and which one is ultimately more efficient for you will depend largely on what’s showing up in your Meta. Corroder is always going to be equal or better for Single-Sub Barriers, and Big Hairy Monster barriers will make you want to lean towards Corroder as well, so Cleaver certainly isn’t going to supplant it, but Cleaver might be the most cost-efficient choice depending on other factors. Cleaver’s edge is increased by supporting it with Ice-weakening tools, so it might ultimately be a little better in-faction, but Corroder is almost certainly better out of faction.

So: On paper, they’re obviously similar. Both Anarch Fracters, both 2 Inf. Cleaver is 1 more to install, but has one more strength and can break 2 subs for 1 where Corroder has to pay 1 per sub. But Cleaver costs twice as much to boost strength, and here’s where the math gets particular.

Some Barriers in Startup are easy to calculate, and for these, Cleaver is equal or better than Corroder: Eli 1.0 is 3 for a Cleaver, 4 for a Corroder. Same for Gold Farmer. Ping and Wraparound are both 1 for either. Both handle Palisade for 1 or 3, depending on where it’s installed. Simple enough.

Advanceable Ice gets trickier. Akhet, for instance, is 1 for a Cleaver when naked, and 2 for a Corroder. If the Corp gets those three tokens on it, though, it becomes 5 for Cleaver vs. 4 for Corroder. At three tokens or fewer on Ice Wall, Cleaver is equal or better, but once it gets advanced beyond that, Corroder takes off running in advantage. Pharos is much more distinctive - Both can crack it for 6 if it has no advancement tokens on it (5 if they’re ok with taking the tag) but once it’s advanced, that’s a pricy 11 for Corroder, but a whopping 16 for Cleaver! Now, it’s worth mentioning that in any realistic scenario where you’re dealing with an advanced Pharos, you’re going to have other ways of dealing with it, but in case you get truly ganked by it, Corroder is definitely the better card to have.

For the last three odd Barriers in Startup: Corroder is equal of better for all instances of Sandstone and Brân 1.0, while Cleaver is equal or better (usually better) in all instances of Hagen except for where your fracter is your only installed program, meaning no other Icebreakers and no worry about letting the program-trashing sub fire.

All of this is, of course, academic, especially considering that these are both Anarch cards. Like I said above, any runner will be looking hard at these cards whether their ID is orange or not, but in Anarch, you’re going to have access to a lot of tools for weakening Ice, and in Startup, it’d be hard to NOT be using those tools. As a general rule, if an Ice has multiple subs, then the closer its strength comes to 3, the more likely Cleaver is to come out ahead. But even in the best situations, it probably won’t come out ahead by much.

First to say, that I agree with the reviews so far, but Lucky Charm has an extremely important use in the current meta, especially in StartUp where the Anoetic Void Manegarm Skunkworks are dominating the meta. Having one of these in your hand can be a great surprise for a corp that plans on scoring their winning agenda behind a server protected by the aforementioned combo and relies on making you run on their server several times, paying for Manegarm again and again, only for you to hit their HQ and then stop the Anoetic Void on your first run in that server to take their win from their hands and mess up their server. I slot one of those in many of my StartUp decks just because of the surprise value in a meta dominated by that hateful combo.

<p>With Anoetic Void wouldn't they just be able to pay another 2 credits and cards to trigger it again once you had prevented it the first time with Lucky Charm?</p> —
<p>Anoetic triggers when the server is being approached, which only triggers once in a run. Therefore - no.</p> —
<p>@Rahrhino: Nope. Since Anoetic is a "Whenever the runner approaches" trigger, it will only fire once. Once the ETR is prevented, you are already approaching, and Anoetic can't trigger again.</p> —
<p>I guess a good way to look at it is that Lucky Charm is bad against click-taxing cards, and that was what most non-ICE ETR effects were back before System Gateway released. However, it's much better against credit-taxing cards, which is what <a href="/en/card/30042">Manegarm Skunkworks</a> is; and it also happens to exploit the fact that <a href="/en/card/30050">Anoetic Void</a> can tax multiple clicks, but not on the same run, meaning that one of Lucky Charm's main drawbacks doesn't matter against Anoetic in particular. So it works particularly well against the Skunk+Void combo. It'll still be bad if there's any paid-ability ETR effect on the same server, though.</p> —

On paper, this is a great economy card. We'll see that this is not so simple.

Economy of Divert Power

DP costs 2, but allows you to rez anything for 0 (additional costs such as forfeiting an agenda or taking bad pub still apply though). We'll assume here that we only want to rez ice (the most expensive asset to rez in standard is Lady Liberty, and the most expensive ever was The Root; technically you could use this for a SanSan City Grid, 6, and there are two rotated upgrades with cost 6: Off the Grid and Ruhr Valley).

The list of ice in standard of cost 8 or more (for a theoretical max profit of 6) is:

That's 16 ice spread around all 4 factions (and 1 neutral), some of which have conditions that allows the Corp to decrease their rez cost. Let's assume that you rez a 9-cost card. Now, for DP to be worth it, you need to derez 3 cards, preferably 0 cost. What are they going to be? Most assets and upgrades, the runner will trash on sight. If not, they are probably expensive to rez (for instance, a Jeeves Model Bioroids); of course, the story was different when Breaker Bay Grid was around. You can count cards like NGO Front and Rashida Jaheem or even Prisec, but those are cards you generally want to keep hidden until you use them. The best options here would be the known traps (such as a Snare! that wasn't trashed) and annoying assets (like Tiered Subscription, Net Analytics, Nanoetching Matrix, Calvin B4L3Y). Special mention for Spin Doctor, but I'll come back to that later. There are 0-cost upgrades, my favourite is Traffic Analyzer for the best negative interaction.

Then you have ice. There are a few 0 cost ice, notably Pop-up Window, Resistor, and Vanilla (also Aimor, Loot Box, Mind Game, and Rime).

In order to gain 7 credits with DP, you need to have some expensive ice, some combination of very cheap ice and asset/upgrade, and make them stick on the table. This is a very hard sell. Even a more credible gain of 6 or 5 is hard to engineer.

Revealing Too Much

Then, we come to the main issue of the card. Even if you do manage to pull it off: you gained somehow 7. The problem is that the runner now knows what awaits them. See, the strength of Tithonium in an HB deck, it's not only that the runner will have to spend 6 credits with Corroder or 7 with Engolo, to pass it. It's also that they will lose their Bukhgalter if they run it at the wrong time. But if you telegraph what your ice is, they won't run unless that have what they need.

The primary strength of expensive ice is the threat they pose. You might not rez your Anansi now because you want to catch them with 2 cards in hand; Týr because you want them to have one click left; etc. Rezzing such expensive ice should have extra value: they might survive the rez without too much damage, but still end the run because they did not expect the run would be that expensive.

And this is also true with the stuff you had to derez. If you have to reveal that your installed card is a Rashida Jaheem in order to get a 3 creds discount, the runner will have all the information to decide whether to run or not. And they also know where your Pop-up Window and your Vanillas are (you are lucky they ran them!).

The Hidden Benefits of Rezzing

But there are additional benefits that I haven't covered. Derezzing, and re-rezzing is powerful, as we all know (Test Ground).

How can we benefit from derezzing? First, there are hidden financial benefits. Spark Agency: Worldswide Reach makes the runner lose a when you rez advertisements. Indian Union Stock Exchange gets you extra money for rerezzing. Advanced Assembly Lines is an extra 2. Traffic Analyzer can be used when you rerez your ice. Add some Aryabhata Tech and say good bye to your friends.

Recurring credits (Mumba Temple), or money assets (campaigns, Regolith Mining License) are replenished. Even better, we can overcharge some of these taxing upgrades such as Cold Site Server and Reduced Service. If you don't like netrunner, you can also play more Drudge Work.

DP lets you use the special abilities of Spin Doctor and Lily Lockwell.

Derezzing can further charge your Lakshmi Smartfabrics. A really nice interaction is with Malia Z0L0K4: if Malia is already rezzed and a better target appears, you can derez and rerez it.

Jemison Astronautics: Sacrifice. Audacity. Success. could, in theory, benefit from rezzing an Archer during their turn, or derezzing their Quarantine System to re-rez it.

You can also derez your assets (maybe your unprotected daily quest) in order to trigger Wall to Wall.

Believe it or not, there are also bad interactions, such as Urban Renewal (unless you really need to time your bombs 3 turns later). Other funny interactions: Public Support and Rex Campaign.

Ice wise, Ping could be reset. So can Magnet and Masvingo. Gatekeeper too, but it's not that good.

Special mention for rotated cards: Elizabeth Mills and Haas Arcology AI could benefit from it. Mother Goddess was happy to see some cards derezzed.

Edit

I notice I forgot to mention a number of sides aspects:

  1. Derezzing allows the Corp to use once per turn abilities twice. For instance, if you have an MCA Austerity Policy with a single token, you could do: put a token, 2 DP to derez MCAAP, rerez for 1, put a token. The runner now has 2 to trash the loaded MCAAP. With MirrorMorph: Endless Iteration, you could even pop MCAAP immediately for a wooping 4 gain (which you could use for Hard-Hitting News or to install and use a new MCA Austerity Policy).

    This also combos with Calvin B4L3Y, Nanoetching Matrix, Raman Rai, Vaporframe Fabricator, Whampoa Reclamation. In Eternal, you could also use it to fire twice: Shell Corporation and Midori with An Offer You Can't Refuse.

  2. I only assumed the basic rez cost, but the cost can be artificially increased by the runner through a variety of methods. This includes Reina Roja: Freedom Fighter's special ability, Xanadu, and Hernando Cortez. So the economic benefit of using DP could be more than mentioned above. It can be also useful to rez your ice early if you worry about cards such as Tread Lightly, Cortez Chip, Rubicon Switch, Leave No Trace, EMP Device, Run Amok. Frankly, only the last one is a real big issue.

    In Eternal, also note Blackmail and DDoS that encourage you to rez early. Denying Nasir Meidan: Cyber Explorer's money is also very funny.

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