This game has seen its fair share of broken stuff, as have most games. And in the spirit of learning from one's mistakes, we often see retrains of old cards attempting to fix those problems. Conduit replaces Medium, now in the right faction and slowed down a tad. Pennyshaver and Paragon each try to replace Desperado, each with their own twists. And I've been pretty satisfied with these callbacks and fixes. They've been balanced, fun, and still pushed enough to be relevant.

But when I saw the Spin Doctor, I thought I had something crazy in my eye. Surely they didn't just give us a retrain of Jackson "Three Influence" Howard? Jesus Howard? The savior, the staple, the must-include, the card you were surprised if a corp deck ran any less than three. While it may look innocuous to newer players, the old guard knows. Jackson was dominant. He was the face of Corp recursion and the reason running Archives was a wasted click.

So let's say it is with reserved optimism I look at Spin Doctor. On the one hand, I've seen good retrains, and the playtest teams seem to have a good finger on the pulse. On the other hand, I've been burned before. I've seen Jackson in action. I played during the Museum format, so I know how bad it can get when Corp recursion gets good. I hope the Spin Doctor doesn't take us back in that direction.

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<p>At LEAST 1c to Rez or Activate - anything that kept it from being a free instant-speed safeguard. I think that's the only issue.</p> —
<p>I started playing just as J-How rotated so never saw him in action and honestly never really understood why he was such a contentious card. Just so I'm clear on how he was used, the scenario would go something like this?</p> —
<p>Oh no, I'm flooded! But luckily I have Jackson in hand so I: &lt;br/&gt;* Slap him down and rez&lt;br/&gt;* Draw 3 (possibly drawing more agendas?)&lt;br/&gt;* Dump 2 agendas into Archives at end of turn&lt;br/&gt;* Then use Jackson to hide them back in R&amp;D&lt;br/&gt;It doesn't seem that much stronger than other recursion tools like <a href="/en/card/22052">Drudge Work</a> or <a href="/en/card/22048">Attitude Adjustment</a> that have appeared since, and none have become ubiquitous or problematic. So why was he such an issue?</p> —
<p>I also wasn´t playing Netrunner in Jackson´s era, but was problematic because he was 1 influence, instant speed, gave you some tempo and helped you fight <a href="/en/card/01001">Noise</a></p> —
<p>Jackson wasn't broken in any single dimension; everything he does is individually reasonable. It's just that it was a single card that had a huge number of different uses, and that sort of versatility is incredibly powerful (normally adding a card to your deck has a risk of it becoming dead, but Jackson would be useful no matter what). A good way to look at it is that <a href="/en/card/11080">Preemptive Action</a> is a pretty good card, and you can always use Jackson as a Preemptive if you want to. But you can also use him to cycle agendas from HQ back into R&amp;D, or dig for a particular card, or overdraw intentionally, and he was also useful in combo decks (due to being able to clicklessly stack an empty R&amp;D). So there was no reason to choose between the various draw and reshuffle and Archives protection cards available; you'd always simply just choose Jackson.</p> —
<p>The most powerful aspect of Jackson, which Spin Doctor retains, is that you can use the reshuffle effect in any PA-window. Meaning the runner has to comitt the click and run to check archives before you reshuffle. You almost don't need to store agendas in RnD. They are safe in archives, until the Runner has wasted time attacking it.</p> —
<p>Similar to what others have already said, there was never a downside to using him and always a downside to the runner trying to interact with him. If they run Jackson, you pop him like an NGO front and recur 3 cards, wasting the runner's time. If they run Archives, you pop him and pull your agendas out of the bin, again, wasting the runner's time. If they run R&amp;D, poo him and shuffle 3 non-trashable cards into R&amp;D to reduce the agenda density. If they Index R&amp;D, pop him to reshuffle R&amp;D. If they... As you see, the list goes on and on.</p> —

I've been trying out Ping quite a bit lately. Here are my early impressions.

First of all, Ping is a card of two halves. There's the rez trigger, which only happens once a game, and there's the ETR subroutine.

Looking at the ETR subroutine first. This is basically as strong as an unadvanced Ice Wall, slightly stronger than Vanilla; it's a gear check and nothing else. Almost every fracter can break this for 1. So this really isn't the reason you'd play Ping. Perhaps, if your deck has rushing as an early-game strategy, you might choose to use your Ping as a Vanilla-alike to rush out an agenda behind, but this is only really a fringe use.

The main value of the card is in the rez trigger. This is, unusually for ICE, something that only works once. So Ping is best thought of as, in effect, trap ICE, an ICE subtype that hardly ever gets played. The basic problem is that although traps might have a useful effect, the Corp has very little control over the timing; you can delay it (by not rezzing the trap), but you can't make it come earlier; you can fire the trap when the Runner runs a particular server, but not before.

A good comparison is Special Offer. At first, that looks like a better Sure Gamble – it still gains you 4, but you only need 1 to play it. However, it doesn't work out nearly as well in practice, because the Runner may stubbornly refuse to run the server it's on while you really could do with the credits right now. Ping has similar issues: you might want to land a tag on the Runner at a particular time, but you can't, you're limited to tagging the Runner at the point when they run on Ping's server.

However, Ping is a much better card than Special Offer is. The thing about tags is that if you tag the Runner during their own turn (or at the end of yours), the Runner pretty much has to clear the tags later in the same turn or face your tag punishment on your next turn. So that's a potentially unexpected , 2 penalty they'll have to pay mid-turn. The credits aren't normally that much of a problem (but they can be if you built your deck around it, or are playing SYNC); but clicks are one of the most limited resources in Netrunner, and clicks on a specific turn are even more limited. Cautious runners will often leave one click spare before making a run, but holding up two, or even three, clicks would be very unusual. So as long as you can land multiple tags on the Runner, your ICE will be getting you its value, if and when the runner chooses to run it.

This makes it clear what the best use of Ping is: you want to put it on your scoring server. You want to put all three Pings on your scoring server. The scoring server is a server that's hardly ever run (most of the time there isn't even a card in it), so most likely the Runner won't get suspicious of the fact you aren't rezzing ICE there (and stacking ICE on a scoring server isn't a suspicious thing to do either). When you finally do install an agenda there, the Runner won't be able to afford to bounce off all the Pings on separate turns (or you'll just score it). So they'll likely try to get in in one go, and end up taking three tags for their trouble (maybe even four if you put the Pings behind a Funhouse, or in front of a Thoth; other sequences also work but not quite as well). The most likely scenario in which the tags actually get cleared is that the Runner has Self-modifying Code already installed, uses it to fetch Misdirection, and still has two clicks left, and that isn't a particularly likely scenario. So most likely, in order to run on your agenda, the Runner is going to end up tagged going into your turn. You'll need to have your deck set up to take advantage of that, but if you're playing NBN, it probably is.

Incidentally, it's worth noting that "put Ping on your scoring server" is also what you want to do if you're using it as gear-check ICE, so it ends up going in the same place pretty much regardless. It isn't a piece of ICE where you have to make hard choices about where to put it. (Perhaps if it's your only form of HQ defence early-game, after a mulligan. Even then, though, I'd rather place it on a remote with an agenda behind it.)

In order to use Ping effectively, you need to build large servers with it. So aside from tag punishment (obviously), cards that synergise with Ping are generally cards that make it cheaper to construct large servers, such as Jinja City Grid, or that synergise with servers that are already large, such as Surveyor. Valley Grid would have been a really interesting choice (Ping has a hard ETR sub, so running through three Pings would reduce the runner's maximum hand size by 3, making it much easier to flatline them on your next turn with the tags); sadly, though, it rotated out as Ping rotated in, so the combo was never in Standard and probably isn't good enough for Eternal. Surat City Grid is an interesting choice to trigger all your Pings at once; I haven't tested this yet, and suspect it might be overkill (i.e. if you get to actually set the combo off, you would have won the game anyway), but as a jank lover I may well try.

There's also Divert Power, which lets you Ping the runner a second time. I have tested this, and don't think it's worth it; if the first pinging doesn't work out, a second pinging is even less likely to help (because the Runner will be prepared for it, and will likely be close to 7 points by then so may be able to close out the game on their own turn).


Also, on top of the gameplay review, here's a flavour review. In real life, pinging a server is a way to determine whether it exists and you can connect to it, and how long the connection takes; you send a message to the server and it copies it back to you, and you can measure the time between the send and receive in order to see how fast the connection is. Just like in Netrunner, in real life, pings are often spammed in order to get more information than a single ping would give you. Using large sets of pings lets you do tricks like a "traceroute" which can give you an idea of where the server is on the network; you send a range of pings with different timeouts and see how far they get before they get turned round and sent back to you, so you end up with replies from all the servers between you and the server you're pinging. This seems exactly like the sort of thing that NBN would try in order to locate a runner; even if the Runner's rig itself is configured to refuse to return the ping requests, maybe they can get useful information from the replies from the servers along the way (especially because, in the Android universe, you'd expect NBN to own many of them as it is).

As a bonus, the traceroute command on my computer seems to attempt a set of three traceroutes to the target server, just like Ping is best installed as a set of three.

The main flavour problem with it is that I don't see what about a Ping would represent a run-ending barrier. That said, the card itself is hardly really a barrier, too; it looks like the ETR sub was just tacked on to give the card something else to do, because it's hardly really relevant when it comes to the card's play pattern.

<p>Definitely not-made-up spoilers on why the ETR exists; it's actually just NBN's CAPTCHA code test that a sysop tossed onto the pinging device for fun.</p> —
<p>You forgot one of the most important things about Ping: If you rez it as NBN: Reality Plus, it´s a 0 cost 1 strenght ETR ice which forces the Runner to lose a &lt;span class="icon icon-click"&gt;&lt;/span&gt; and 2 credits. I won´t expect Ping to have only a "fringe" use as a gearcheck in Reality Plus because here it´s really better than <a href="/en/card/10095">Vanilla</a></p> —
<p>May the sub should have read 'etr if the Runner is tagged' alongside a slightly higher strength.</p> —

I love money cards because they let us re-evaluate the value of s and s. The worst a is worth is a , so we'll use that as a baseline (it's worth more in reality). Also remember, that installing a card takes a . Format [x/c], where x = clicks spent and c = profit compared to using x clicks to click for . At the end is a capita-per-click percentage score.

Smartware Distributor: Turn 1 [2/-2], Turn 4 [3/0], Turn 7 [4/+2], Turn 10 [4/+5]* --125%--

Data Folding: Turn 1 [1/-4], Turn 4 [1/-1], Turn 7 [1/+2], Turn 10 [1/+5] --500%--

Armitage Codebusting: Turn 1 [4/+1], Turn 2 [7/+4] --57%--

Sure Gamble: Turn 1 [1/+3] --300%--

Day Job: Turn 1 [4/+6] --150%--

Liberated Account Turn 1 [4/+2], Turn 2 [5/+5] --100%--

Kati Jones (3-turn cycle): Turn 1 [2/-4], Turn 3 [4/0], Turn 6 [7/+3], Turn 9 [10/+6] --60%--

Kati Jones (5-turn cycle): Turn 1 [2/-4], Turn 5 [6/+4], Turn 10 [11/+11] --100%--

*Assumes that Smartware isn't being used a fourth time

This data shows us that as far as capita-per-click efficiency, Smartware is actually on the higher end of things, so if you want to drop a couple early and dedicatedly click them up each turn, it's not the worst plan ever. Their biggest issue is flexibility and acceleration. If you only have 1 to spare before the end of the game, then a simple Sure Gamble or a Stimhack is going to be better for you. If you have a couple turns left, the flexibility of Armitage or Lib Account are better suited for your needs. In the case of one full turn of downtime, Day Job's the winner. Kati has a little of both, giving you a bit of flexibility as well as long-term investment. If long-term investment is the only thing you need, then you can look into cards like Smartware, Data Folding, or even Rezeki. At this point, I don't think it's a matter of "is Smartware good?" so much as it's "does Smartware fit into the economic tempo your deck needs?" Obviously, Data Folding saves you 3 by turn 10 and nets you the same amount of money, but can you deal with the drought created by the first 5 turns? Smartware offsets that drought period by giving you a much easier point of entry--0 and 2.

That all being said, I think this card can be pushed even further by including it in an Aesop's Pawnshop deck, allowing you to sell it off for a sweet 3 advance without the use of a click when you no longer want it.

58
<p>The best thing is that the investment is really cheap.</p> —
<p>It's interesting to see the numbers laid out like this. I never realised just how inefficient Kati is/was. That said, given that: Data Folding is conditional, Day Job and Lib cost inf out of faction, Gamble is single use, and Kati is rotating, I think the best comparison for long-ish term neutral econ is Armitage. Which Smartware evidently compares to pretty favourably, though that's not saying much. With the new in-faction econ options in Gateway, I doubt this will see much play. It'd be nice to have some decent neutral econ options to go along with Gamble and Casts but I suppose you need to be careful not to warp the 'econ war' that's at the heart of Netrunner.</p> —

Going to start my first card review off with an obligatory "awesome Liiga art" comment.

More seriously I think anarchs may splash this over Mimic in Leech builds as at least a single copy. It's only 1 inf and you won't get blown out by a Cyberdex Virus Suite into an Anansi or Surveyor as it can still get pumped up, and matches mimic strength once the runner is set up.

On the shaper end, I don't think this will be slotted while Na'Not'K is still legal, and Adam still prefers Odore.

1323

Best MU you can get in faction. So good in fact that we will see this splashed out of faction, even with 2 influences to pay.

If you install 2 programs, you pay for it. More and you make a profit. If you get it before you install 6 programs (3 breakers and 3 Rezeki, for a typical shaper), it will pay for itself and pay in advance for other DZMZ Optimizer you would have in the deck. This replace Akamatsu Mem Chip for shapers, in my opinion. If you are lucky and get the 3 DZMZ Optimizer on the board, most of you program will be nearly free. Shapers want to install lots of programs and DZMZ Optimizer will help them do just that. This has a great synergy with most shaper strategies (big rig and the like), it is a wonder why it is only 2 influences.

Also, this will fit perfectly in deck using Khusyuk. There is plenty of cards with a cost of 2 credits in shapers and neutral. Making it easy to use Khusyuk without really having to build a specific deck around it.

Good art, nice flavor text, amazing shaper hardware.

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