There are no blank agendas in Netrunner,** but Braintrust comes pretty darn close.

Even if you could advance Braintrust after scoring it, it would still be a pretty iffy deal. Pay $2 and 2 clicks to reduce rez costs by 1? You'll have to rez four more ICE before you even break even!

What's worse, scoring an over-advanced Braintrust is incompatible with using it effectively: - You want to score it early, but you also need a surplus $2 and 2 clicks - You want to score it before rezzing much ICE, but it has to be protected enough to install-advance-advance - If you're a trappy corp that can bluff it out with Mushin or Kakurenbo, you probably aren't running much ICE

Between this and Project Yadi-Uga (only a bit less useless) it seems clear that NR designers feel that red 2/3 agendas would be OP if they actually did something. Compare these to Beale, Atlas, and Vitruvius. Apparently it's okay for red to have a few 2/3s, but they'd better not also be useful.

** except Vanity Project, but just being a 4/6 is special in itself

<p>Reduced cost is substantially different from a credit rebate, particularly when a cost has been reduced to zero. Your math is correct but your imagination is a little stifled, here.</p> —

This card probably shouldn't exist. Most strong tag-me cards shouldn't exist, because they reduce Netrunner to rock-paper scissors. Liza Talking Thunder is banned for precisely this reason. She crushes corps with no tag punishment and she gets crushed by tag-n-bag corps.

The one defense I can imagine for Counter Surveillance is that it has at least a possible purpose in a non-tag-me deck. It can serve as a last gasp for a runner who is losing to NBN badly enough to be reluctantly forced to go tag-me. Mind you, I've never actually seen it used that way...

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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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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