At first glance, this has similar numbers to Engram Flush or Slot Machine, which are some of the best code gates ever printed. So why isn't this ice seeing serious play?

  1. It needs way too many bioroids to work reliably, but very few bioroids are actually good. After the Fairchild 3.0 ban most tournament HB decks currently use 0-4 bioroid ice, usually Bran 1.0 and Ansel 1.0. Ravana needs like 8-10 other bioroids because it's blank until you've managed to draw and rez one. Problem: you can't get to 8+ other bioroids without overloading on expensive Bran/Ansels and including a few bioroids you wouldn't otherwise want (e.g. Eli 1.0 and Fairchild 2.0). Followup problem: Ravana pretty much demands that you neglect much better non-bioroid ices available. Hagen, Drafter, Gatekeeper, plus any imports, you have much better options than scraping the barrel for 10+ bioroids.
  2. Until you have enough money for a $6 Bran/Ansel and a $3 Ravana, the best this card can do is pretend to be an additional copy of Eli 1.0. Problem: the ideal number of Elis in a deck is usually 0-1 and never higher than 3.
  3. Ravana takes setup time. It'll almost never be rezzable turns 1-2, except out of possibly Architects of Tomorrow. Unfortunately, a lot of the bioroids you're running to make this card happy are themselves expensive and hard to rez early. Bioroids don't do much damage to unprepared runners because they can be clicked through. This isn't like an Anansi situation where bankrupting yourself to devastate the runner might be worth it. Bankrupting yourself to remove 2-3 runner clicks is probably not worth it.
  4. Ravana is unusually bad in challenging circumstances (e.g. you're having trouble drawing your ice, recovering from Apocalypse, under serious Stargate pressure, or have had multiple ice destroyed or derezzed).
  5. Ravana and its friends can be clicked through on face-check. Burning 2 runner clicks is good value against a routine run, but probably not enough value to scare off Stargate/Diversion of Funds/etc.

This is a fun ID. It's fast-paced and makes economical some cards which probably wouldn't see much play otherwise. Most tag ice are overpriced and need an ID interaction to be worthwhile, and this is probably the fastest-tempo tag identity we'll have for a while.

Power level: Reality+ is the strongest of the new 40/15 identities and over the last several months it's been one of the strongest corps overall. It has an unusually strong ability for a 40/15 identity. Unlike Azmari, which was strong enough to get banned, its ID involves some limitations on deck composition, so it's not AS crazy-flexible as Azmari was. Suggestion to game designers: the existence of this ID guts the economics on runner cards that cause tags (e.g. Rogue Trading), so it might have been beneficial if the Reality+ ability only triggered on tags that come from corp cards. Or from tags that come during a run, because do we actually need more incentive to play Hard-Hitting News?

Conduit is a powerful and economically grueling form of RND pressure. It is tournament viable, albeit expensive to keep it operational. Corp players have some good counters (Cyberdex Virus Suite is used by 62% of corp players as of ban list 21.06, and Macrophage is used by 23%).

Conduit is mostly a reprint of Medium in Shaper, but with a slight nerf. With Medium, you could have used run events like Dirty Laundry or Out of the Ashes or Overclock or Mobius, but with Conduit the run has to be made through Conduit. In addition, from Anarch's perspective, the 4 influence cost is real rough, you'd have to make a huge commitment to import this. Also, Medium allowed you to set a lower number of accesses if you wanted, a helpful safety feature in some matchups.

In Anarch, you could easily use Stargate instead. Some reasons you might use Medium anyway:

  • It spirals out of control faster. If RND only has 1 small ice, a surprise Conduit installation is an immediate emergency situation if the runner has the means to run repeatedly. Play an ice or die. In contrast, Stargate might not be so dangerous short-term, particularly if Spin Doctor is available.
  • Conduit pairs so savagely with Apocalypse. Apocalypse Now, Conduit Tomorrow
  • Viral support like Knobkierie and Cookbook.
  • Conduit is lighter on MU and it can be powered by Knobkierie and Memstrips.

Flavor: the poem is a reference to Alexander Pope's Essay on Criticism ("A little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring"). Given the Apocalyptic nature of this card, I would have gone with a biblical reference instead: "Where's your Macrophage now?"

It's more flexible than Crisium Grid and protects all servers against a variety of threats. Problem: it's a low-impact card in many matchups, and there are so many 4/2s and 5/3s you could have played instead. Offshore Office -- by no means a top-tier agenda -- is 7 credits upfront. How long will it take your Transport Monopoly to produce 7 credits worth of value?

Popular "if successful" cards:

  • It absolutely guts Apocalypse. They have to make 3 runs and then you prevent the third run from being declared successful. Then repeat this the following turn. Most Apocalypse decks do not have enough economy to run that much.
  • Diversion of Funds. A Diversion of Funds that goes through is up to a 10-credit swing effect. If Transport Monopoly kills even one Diversion, absolutely worth it.
  • Almost every runner (81% as of ban list 21.06) has Dirty Laundry. If you score Transport Monopoly, you could cut $10 from the runner. That's not terrible value for a 4/2. In some matchups, e.g. Shaper, this is probably the best you can hope for.
  • It sets back Stargate 2 turns.
  • It shuts down Counter Surveillance.
  • It's a minor delay to Conduit. They could just run again.
  • Hot Pursuit.

For reference, as of ban list 21.06, here are the most commonly used cards in standard which check if a run is successful:

  • Dirty Laundry (used in 81% of runner decks)
  • Stargate (29%)
  • Apocalypse (27%)
  • Diversion of Funds (20%)
  • Conduit (16%)
  • Hot Pursuit (10%)

(Minor examples include Embezzle, Wanton Destruction, Khusyuk, Steve Cambridge, CBI Raid, and Legwork).

This is the best end-the-run ice in the game*. It ALWAYS costs more to break than it does to rez. For almost every runner, this costs 4 to break with a breaker or 6 with no breaker, either of which are exceptionally high for a 3-cost ETR. In GameNET it reliably causes a 6-credit swing if they have a breaker, one of the most efficient ices in the game. Other ice that stand out on efficiency (e.g. Engram Flush, Slot Machine, Aiki, and Mausolus) usually lack end-the-run abilities or have gut-wrenching conditions (Data Ward is the most efficient ice in the game, but only if they're tagged).

Gold Farmer was removed from Standard because it is crazy-powerful in every matchup, on any server, against every possible configuration of breakers and breaker-alternatives. Among MANY other key applications, it is by far the most reliable setup piece for a turn 1 Daily Quest or Rashida install. (No breaker works well, paying through is a huge setback, and even Boomerang is no good). In GameNet, a single Gold Farmer takes Diversion of Funds from 2 clicks for a 9-credit swing to 2 clicks for a 3-credit swing. Ghastly.

Liabilities: none. It only ends the run, true, but at a cost of 3 it's best-in-class for reliably protecting assets and critical servers. This ice was concurrent with high-value, low-cost assets like Daily Quest and Wall To Wall and you absolutely could afford to spend 3 on a gearcheck to raise the cost of killing them.

Gold Farmer is so rawly powerful that it has no adequate counterplay, but more than that, it's so powerful it's hard to imagine what counterplay COULD be printed. If Gold Farmer's ability fires, it is virtually guaranteed to cause a 4-credit swing, which is an efficiency win for the corp even outside of GameNet. Even if the runner have a specialized breaker like Cleaver, which can break 2 subroutines for 1 credit, a 3-5 credit swing is still excellent for a 3-cost ice.

*Runners-up include Border Control and Surveyor. Border Control has a phenomenal ability, but I'd give the slight edge to Gold Farmer in value over time. Surveyor needs help and is kind of cumbersome in the 419 matchup where your early credits and installs are restricted, the runner has a trace, and Boomerang and/or Aumakua are usually available early. Gold Farmer is an A+ ice in every matchup, in every phase of the game.