Current Startup (Liberation Cycle + SU21 + System Gateway) gives an interesting example of how all card analysis is contextual. It's generally accepted that Earthrise Hotel is the better neutral draw option when compared to Verbal - dnddmdb's review offers a more in-depth look than mine, but it's not dead in multiples, it's faster, and it's clickless. This means, especially if your deck has other draw or card selection pieces, it compares very well to Verbal - using Earthrise to draw into more draw means even in the long run you're likely to keep up with what Verbal would have offered. There are other tradeoffs (deck slots being the main one), but having more draw also means you're likely to see card draw early, compared to if you're just on Verbal (owing to the fact it somewhat doesn't synergise - if you have a lot of burst draw then you're unlikely to be clicking to draw a lot) and don't draw it until too late.

However, in the current Startup card pool, criminals have effectively no in-faction draw options - the only in faction card which says "draw" on it is Chrysopoeian Skimming, and you're definitely not playing it because it says draw a card! They have a handful of tutors in Meeting of Minds and Mutual Favor, but if you're playing a Crim deck that wants consistent draw (Ken and Mercury both offer incentives for event-heavy decks, for example), options are scarce. Either you go out of faction and spend a lot of influence, or you turn to neutral cards. There's also the admittedly anecdotal evidence that so far this meta feels slower, though that's hard to judge given we're not far in and this was based off the experience of a couple of us at a single local tournament.

Given these things, Verbal suddenly looks more enticing - the density of draw effects being so low means that you are going to be clicking to draw a lot unless you fork over most of your influence for burst draw. Event decks especially have a pretty constant demand for draw - when most of your money and tricks are one-time things, you'll always need more. Ashen Epilogue is also burst draw and recycling, which is both desirable in event decks (reshuffle to get a more event-dense deck since your installables are on board, and a chance to replay high-impact events) and something that further advantages a long-term draw option - it's both not getting shuffled back in to dilute your deck and helps you get through your stack faster. It's not a massive gain, since most of the time your one shot draw options will also be reshuffled, but the gap between Verbal and Earthrise is small enough that I'm counting it as a meaningful point in favour. While it's not a slam dunk "every Startup Crim should be on Verbal", it is a situation where the usual wisdom that Earthrise is always better doesn't hold, because the reasoning behind it comes from a different context where draw is more abundant. I still wouldn't run just Verbal, because you want other draw to help find it early, and sometimes you'll still need a lot of burst draw, but I think it beats out Earthrise for Event-heavy Criminals in Startup.

To go on a little tangent, this is one of my favourite things about Netrunner, and one of the main things I use to guide my brewing, deckbuilding, and spoiler season card analysis - when looking at a card instead of (or as well as) going "This other card is better", I ask "What sort of deck or meta would make this card sing?" - the answers can lead you to surprising places, and trying out things you might not have otherwise considered. Even if the answer turns out to be "This isn't the deck/meta that this card might work in" or even "I don't think such a deck or meta exists/could exist", the act of thinking about and playing with a range of decks and cards to try and make things work deepens your understanding and appreciation of the game. Plus, sometimes you'll find a diamond in the rough - there are cards I've definitely overlooked on release only to come back to to a few sets later and find all the pieces are there now!

I noticed this is the only card in System Gateway without a review so here goes: This is a bad card.

Let’s look at all the ways this card is bad. Firstly, we know exactly how much spending a card to draw two cards is worth to the Corp - Zero. That is how much it costs to rez Spin Doctor. The ancillary benefit of having +2 maximum hand size isn’t even as useful as Spin Doctor’s ability to shuffle cards from Archives back into your deck since that can be used to recur your best cards as well as to save you from agenda flood. Superconducting Hub might save you from agenda flood if you can spend 4 and 3 on it and don’t get it or your other agendas stolen in the meantime…

Even worse for Superconducting Hub is that for the Corp drawing cards later in the turn is bad. Especially bad is putting this down one turn and scoring it the next as it potentially ups the Agenda count in your hand just before the runner’s turn. This happens to also make scoring it from hand a lot worse, which is not a great place for a 3-advancement Agenda to be in. If you can’t score it quickly, then it may as well be a 4/2 as you will be leaving it out for a turn anyway so you may as well get another point for just one more credit.

Sadly, Superconducting Hub just feels like a design miss. A neutral 3/1 shouldn’t be a strong agenda, but it should at least be a role player in some decks. An Agenda like False Lead would have been perfect as the always-available neutral. You don’t want it for most decks but when you do it plays a role nothing else can. Instead we have a card that provides at most a marginal advantage and sometimes can actively hurt you. That won’t see it played much if at all.


This agenda exists pretty specifically for Earth Station: SEA Headquarters. When running Earth Station, you can force a 6 credit tax on your remote, but the runner can disable it by running HQ. You can do your best to ensure a crucial HQ run will be more than six credits, but runners have a lot of tricks for easy HQ accesses. S-Dobrado can let them skip two ice, while Inside Job (which works on all servers not just centrals) only does one. Backstitching can cut through your ice if HQ is the mark. Sneakdoor Beta can just absolutely devastate your taxing HQ, and while they might not be able to use their events when sneakdooring, they are very capable of flipping your identity. Transport Monopoly gives you the ability to force them to need to hit HQ twice on two different turns to flip your ID, or just eat the six cred cost when normally they wouldn't. Crisium Grid serves a similar purpose, but this being an agenda has drawbacks and benefits. It can be stolen while Crisium has to be trashed at a decent cost, but being an agenda, it can't be trashed at all. Once you score it, it exists, and you don't have to use it on non-crucial turns. Putting down a Crisium might save you once, but if the runner skips that turn to run and trashes it next turn, it's gone. If they don't run with Transport Monopoly up, you just keep the charge.

Outside of Earth Station, its use is more limited. You may be able to prevent game-winning Legwork or stop a Burner from bottom decking all your economy, but you can't guarantee it'll happen every game. Not useless, but far more of a kind of meta call.

Let's say that, for whatever reason, you decided to make a Jinteki rush deck. (Saraswati is a good choice, due to saving a click every time you install an agenda; rush decks can sometimes live or die by their economy, and saving clicks gives you time to play the economic operations.)

In previous formats, the way to make a rush deck's economy work would be to fill your deck full of economic 4/2 agendas: Corporate Sales Team, Cyberdex Sandbox, Offworld Office, that sort of thing. (3/2s don't generally provide meaningful amounts of economy, with the exception of Luminal Transubstantiation which is not legal in Jinteki; and 5/x agendas are too hard to score for a rush deck.) Unfortunately, Corporate Sales Team has rotated, and Cyberdex Sandbox has been banned, leving a bit of a gap in the typical rush deck's agenda suite. As such, rush decks have to resort to scraping the bottom of the barrel for agenda economy somewhat, perhaps even resorting to marginal choices like Timely Public Release because "at least it saves a click installing ICE".

Trying to fill this void for a Jinteki rush deck, I decided to try out Flower Sermon, and was blown away by just how much it helps out the typical rush deck. This happens for two main reasons:

  • The agenda gives a direct economic benefit, in that it allows you to clicklessly draw cards. Drawing cards by click is something that a rush deck frequently has to do (because you want to get the agendas into hand before the opponents can set up, and also need to draw into ICE and economy operations). So the agenda is effectively saving on those clicks.

    The relatively free card draw is also pretty helpful for Jinteki rush decks in particular, as it helps to support certain cards that they would likely be running anyway – Hansei Review for their economy, and Anoetic Void to delay the Runner by the last vital couple of clicks (it is far from unheard of for the Runner to find their last critical icebreaker halfway through the turn before you score the 7th point, so having a clickless way to fuel Anoetic Void can make the difference between a win and a loss).

  • The agenda also gives a fairly large indirect economic benefit: it helps to protect the top of R&D, because you can use an agenda counter to put a useless card there (or even a Snare!, and you can do that once the Runner is already committed to accessing). This means that once you have scored a Flower Sermon, R&D needs less protection than it usually would, and so it effectively saves you money because you don't have to rez (or even install) as much ICE there as you normally would. This effect probably isn't quite up there with Offworld Office, but it isn't that much worse, and it's definitely better than the currently available alternatives for economic agendas.

    It's worth noting that this protection works even against the new Cataloguer (you place an untrashable card on top of R&D after the Runner rearranges it). It doesn't work against Stargate, but Cataloguer is much more popular at the moment – often replacing Stargate – and that's helping to make Flower Sermon better than it previously was.

This means that Flower Sermon is probably better-positioned for rush decks nowadays than it has been at any time since it was printed. It's no longer facing as much competition from other agendas, with most of the good economic agendas being rotated or banned. It's also facing a more friendly line-up of cards from the Runner side than in previous formats. If you decide to play a Jinteki rush deck in the current metagame, it should definitely form part of your agenda suite – it has been one of the best-performing agendas in my testing (along with the obvious Offworld Office).

The remaining question, of course, is "should I really be playing a Jinteki rush deck anyway?". I don't have a great answer to that one – other styles of Jinteki decks are more popular at the moment, and probably for good reason. But in my testing, it at least hasn't been completely hopeless; even with an untuned list, it seems to outperform most of the other casual Corp decks I've been trying out (although I suspect it won't hold up in a proper tournament), and it's a good way to get a lot of games in quickly. Still, if we ever end up in a metagame favouring rush (which looks like it might actually happen, given the popularity of somewhat clunky Shaper decks at the moment), Jinteki rush seems to be an interesting alternative to Weyland rush, and if it's viable, Flower Sermon will be a major part of the reason why.

April 2024 Startup Review If you’re an Anarch right now, then unless you want to spend quite a bit of influence or are Sebastião Souza Pessoa: Activist Organizer, this is going to be your console. Amanuensis is only for a specific kind of deck and Carnivore is expensive, has an expensive ability and has lost Steelskin Scarring to make it really do work. For half the cost of Carnivore, T400 gives you the same extra Mu and an additional ability that will always be somewhat helpful. But the biggest upside is that additional copies aren’t dead in your hand - you can increase your Mu even more (great for having multiple viruses out at once) and build up your damage resistance at the same time.