Wave is an harmonic ice, if there was more harmonic ices, it would matter. Currently, there is Echo, period.

So, the harmonic part is not what is interesting about this ice. The most interesting part is that it is the HB Pop-up Window. Breaking this will always make you lose more than the corp will gain, so unless the corp is really low (or the runner is filthy rich), it is usually a mistake to break it.

The best part of this ice is two-folds.

First, it tutor and ice for us. If you have ice on which your whole deck strategy hinge on, like Border Control, this is great!

The second part is that it cost only one influence. Making ice tutoring very accessible for decks that needs it.

Now, this is a niche application for an ice, but a fun one in my opinion. Paying 2 to either tax the runner or gain 1 AND tutoring an ice is a fair price.

I could see this ice in horizontal deck, where you want specific ice on the scoring remote and mild ices for the differents assets (looking at you Asa Group: Security Through Vigilance).

On a different note, the quote is evocative and well thought out for what the ice does. While the art is well made, it does not relate to the effect of the ice or to its name (a water vortex makes me think of a very different thing, nothing that relate to a wave), it could have been better.

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This is an interesting agenda. It allow the corp to get 3 cards without worrying about hand size next turn. This gives Haas-Bioroid yet another click compression tool.

Is this good? Yes. Is it as useful as 7? No.

Why would you play this? Because drawing cards makes your game better and for this, there are at least two archetypes for which this could be good.

The first is the asset-spam type (AKA horizontal deck), which always struggle to get cards in hand fast enough to put them down and create a huge board. The ID that play the most this type of deck in HB is Asa Group: Security Through Vigilance. Getting 2 points and 3 cards is an excellent proposition, creating more click compression.

The second archetype is a glacier deck (AKA vertical deck) using Jinja City Grid. Drawing 3 cards means possibly getting more ices installed clicklessly, while diluting the hand. The usual ID for glacier in HB is Haas-Bioroid: Architects of Tomorrow.

There are possibly more archetypes, but those two are the for which I think Midnight-3 Arcology would have the most value.

Of note, the art and quote on this agenda is inspiring, on top of a well balanced card. Kudos!

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Subliminal Messaging is an interesting card that does a lot of different things, and its main focus – and use in a deck – has shifted around over time.

As an economy card

The most obvious use of Subliminal Messaging is as an economy card that gives you 1 every turn the Runner doesn't run (but that doesn't work as well in multiples). This can be a pretty good rate of return, if you can set your deck up in such a way that you can penalise the Runner for running a lot. Against many decks, most Runners will run most turns anyway, so Subliminal works best in cases where they don't. The key thing to notice is that a single copy of Subliminal doesn't cost you a server, or an install click, or a rez cost – all you need to do is draw it and it'll be ready to make money right away. The fact that it gives you a 1 bonus on the turn you drew it, even if the Runner ran last turn, helps to blunt the cost of the card (one card is worth more than 1 but not by that much). It does cost a deck slot, though, which means that it normally isn't worth playing Subliminal unless it's a particularly good fit for your deck.

As such, generally speaking, Subliminal Messaging as a pure economy event works best in pure glacier decks; standard strategy against those doesn't include running every turn, so you're likely to get the free credit quite frequently. Non-glacier decks face the issue that many runners (Hoshiko, Sunny, Smoke, Freedom, and most Criminals) get enough value from the fact of having made a run that they will naturally want to run pretty much every turn, if there's anywhere they can get in (and sometimes even if there isn't) – only glacier decks are likely to be able to ICE up everything to the extent that "value runs" become worthless.

As a combo card

Despite its obvious use being as a source of economy, Subliminal Messaging also started finding its way into combo decks. This is based on the fact that it's an operation that refunds when played – these decks mostly don't care about the 1 economy, but purely about the fact that the operation refunds itself. In particular, a copy of Subliminal was standard in Accelerated Diagnostics decks, back when they were legal – if you can hit Subliminal Messaging off Accelerated Diagnostics, you just refunded the click (and credit!) cost of the Diagnostics. Accelerated Diagnostics' best friend Power Shutdown also combos somewhat with Subliminal Messaging, in that the run that turns Subliminal off turns Shutdown on.

The Power Shutdown/Accelerated Diagnostics combo is behind us, and that's probably for the best – it's banned in everything (even Eternal, a format which only has four banned cards). The "Subliminal click" lives on, though, in the form of MirrorMorph: Endless Iteration. MirrorMorph's ability gives you a bonus click as long as your first four actions are all different, but it doesn't care about actions beyond the fourth. This means that in a MirrorMorph deck, Subliminal Messaging can be used for "click laundering", counting as a "play operation" action without actually spending a click, and serving as one of the simplest ways to get a five-click turn (thus allowing you to play two duplicate actions, as nothing stops the fifth action being the same as an earlier action). An extreme example of this is when you have a Bass CH1R180G4 pre-installed; you can 1) install an agenda, 2) play Subliminal, 3) pop Bass, 4) advance the agenda, and now that you've satisfied the MirrorMorph trigger the 5th, 6th and 7th clicks of your turn can all be advances, making it possible to score a 4/2 from hand. A preinstalled Bass can normally only score 3/2s, but the Subliminal Messaging managed to smuggle an extra click past MirrorMorph's trigger.

As an amplifier for Jinteki economy cards

Subliminal Messaging, when played, gives 1. However, you don't necessarily have to play it immediately after it comes back to your hand, and this turns out to give synergy with some of the Jinteki economy cards. There are two really big synergies which mean that Subliminal Messaging can easily earn a spot in JInteki decks that run operation economies:

  • Subliminal Messaging can be discarded to Hansei Review, and yet you didn't really lose a card in the process (just 1 because you discarded the Subliminal rather than playing it). This removes Hansei Review's disadvantage over Hedge Fund. Admittedly, it also removes the advantage, but hey, it isn't like Hedge Fund is a bad card – most decks that play an operation economy would be happy to play six.
  • Subliminal Messaging can be revealed to Celebrity Gift, and you still get to play the Subliminal Messaging afterwards. This helps to blunt Celebrity Gift's downside; if your hand is full of Subliminal Messagings that the Runner knows is there, you can just show them to avoid having to show something more important. Especially if running multiple Subliminals, it's quite common to be able to hide a card or two from the Runner and yet still get the full value of your Gift.

Hansei Review and Celebrity Gift are probably the top two Jinteki economy cards at the moment (if building a Jinteki deck that can't use an asset economy, and most of them can't, those are the main Jinteki cards I would consider for its economy – most of the best economy cards are neutral). So Subliminal Messaging being able to combo with both of them is something that really pushes up its value, and helps to make Jinteki as a whole a more viable faction.

There are other Jinteki cards that like Subliminal Messaging, too (e.g. Genotyping and particularly Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity), but they aren't as good or as commonly played. The Review and Gift synergies are easily good enough to give Subliminal a slot in the typical Jinteki deck, though.

As protection for HQ

Sabotage is one of the new abilities in Midnight Sun; it's one of the more popular deck styles in Startup, and people are experimenting with it in Standard too. If you're up against Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist, then having a card that you can cheaply discard from HQ and bring back later is very valuable; as such, Subliminal makes for a particularly good discard to sabotages. Once you find the Subliminal, it effectively forces Esâ to run every turn, or else have half of xir deck switched off. Esâ decks are generally set up to be able to do that if necessary, but you're still cutting down the Runner's options, and slowing down their setup; Subliminal Messaging helps to fight those decks by forcing them to spend clicks running rather than giving them the option to take turns fixing their economy. (The same idea can also be used against Alice Merchant: Clan Agitator, who doesn't technically sabotage, but whose ability is very similar.)

Subliminal Messaging is an untrashable operation, too, so it provides some protection even against more normal Runner playstyles; HQ accesses hit random cards, and Subliminal can be one of these cards. Admittedly, you could use almost any ICE or operation for that, but Subliminal goes into an economy slot (so it's helping to move your economy card mix more towards operations, which is a good thing in terms of HQ protection), and it partially works around the main downside of running lots of operations: operations tend to clog your hand if you can't play them immediately, but there isn't any cost to "discarding" one Subliminal per turn (by playing it) and it tends to come back on its own later on, when you might have more room in your hand.

Conclusions

Subliminal Messaging might at first seem to be an economy card, but it's also a combo card – and in Jinteki decks running an operation economy, a better economy card – and tech against sabotage – and a little bit of HQ/R&D reinforcement. That's a lot of jobs that one card can be doing, but they're all kind-of minor, and all of them get affected if you're allowing the Runner to run every turn and get most of the benefit of their click. If you can make (or if your deck naturally makes) running costly for the Runner, though, it isn't rare for a copy to pull its weight economically over the course of the game; it'd be a decent economy operation even if it returns to hand only twice over the course of the game (that would be a clickless 3, which is up there with the premium Corp economy cards). It is, however, at its best if your deck can also do something else with it; if you're running Celebrity Gift and Hansei Review, or if you have a combo that benefits from the click, or if your deck is weak to sabotage, then it really starts showing its value (often even to the point that playing multiple copies becomes worthwhile). But if you're playing the sort of deck where the Runner will want to run every turn anyway, then your Subliminal is worse than useless; it's rarely worth spending a card to gain 1, not even when you can make the trade clicklessly, and yet if you never get to bring it back, your Subliminal will never get to do anything else.

<p>It's also good food for <a href="/en/card/30050">Anoetic Void</a>.</p> —

This seems like a potentially very powerful card for criminals at first:

At 2 cost, it seems comparable to Inside Job, which is a great card for many reasons, and a big enabler for criminals getting past big taxing ice.

Compared to Inside Job, Backstitching:

  • Has the advantage that it can bypass any ice in the run and not just the first encountered ice. So, corps that try to harden a server against inside job by putting a cheap ice on the outside won't have success vs. this threat.
  • Inside job can't be used to help you land another run event like Legwork or The Maker's Eye, but this card can. This card can also be used with Inside Job to bypass two ice (and perhaps multiaccess with The Twinning?)

However, it is also a lot less flexible than Inside Job:

  • You can only use it on centrals, you can't use it to crack the remote
  • You can't control which server is your mark, so if you really need to get into a specific central, this card won't reliably help you do that.

For Nyusha "Sable" Sintashta: Symphonic Prodigy the most obvious consistent use of this card is that it may help you translate Easy Mark into a successful run and a free click on a turn when you might not otherwise have been able to. So this card may enable opportunistic access, possibly more cheaply if the corp is playing big ice.

The argument against this card I think goes as follows:

In the new Cezve meta, centrals are already very porous. Cezve helps you get where you need to go no matter what your mark is. With Bukhgalter and Cezve you are breaking Drafter for free. With Corroder and Cezve you are breaking Gold Farmer for two. Instead of breaking Gold Farmer, you could bypass it, but then you paid two to install Backstitching. So why bother with Backstitching?

If there's something big enough in your way that Backstitching would be cost effective, Boomerang would probably also work, and Boomerang has a lot more flexibility and utility. You can use it to crack the remote also for instance.

On the plus side, Backstitching will always be able to help you on the turn where you play deep dive.

Overall, I expect this card to be somewhat niche.

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Note: This review is focused on the startup format.


Let's ignore the effect of sabotage for the moment in order to compare this to other cards.

This card provides "pseudo multiaccess" to four cards for a cost of three. In this respect it looks comparable to The Maker's Eye or Legwork, which let you see three cards for a cost of two. You may not actually get to see those cards unless you also run archives, and if there is a spin doctor on the board then you probably won't get to see any agendas.

Is this likely to be splashed into reg Hoshiko decks? I would argue, probably not. Hoshiko is more likely to select The Twinning for multiaccess for many reasons.


So, this is likely an Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist-only card, and it's most interesting when the runner is trying to win by milling the corp -- you're playing this for the sabotage win-con rather than "just" for multiaccess. And if the runner is able to land this card twice let's say, that puts 8 cards in the bin.

If the runner is able to put say 20 cards from the corp in the bin via sabotage, they are likely to win the game, because about half of the agendas and half of the ice will end up in the bin, and corp can only Spin Doctor so much of that back. If they lose half their ice they may not be able to secure all the servers, and then Esa can win in the remote, or R&D, etc. Note that Esa is likely to do 6-10 sabotages from playing core damage cards, and then they can also get some more sabotage from Avgustina Ivanovskaya.

Of those sources of sabotage (Chastushka, Esa identity, Avgustina, Marrow), Chastushka is the easiest one for the corp to try to prevent, and many corps will stack ice on HQ when vs. Esa. Why?

So, Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist that wants to land Chastushka early is likely going to use Botulus or Boomerang. So many corps will decide to put two ice on HQ right away when playing against Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist.

However, there are other forms of counterplay besides just stacking ice:

Of these forms of counterplay, which ones are most viable?

Crisium Grid has always been a very strong card, having a significant impact in many criminal and shaper matchups. It shuts down a lot of shaper multiaccess events like The Maker's Eye, Khusyuk, Deep Dive. It also blocks Stargate. For this reason it usually goes on R&D, except in matchups like Steve Cambridge: Master Grifter. However, there are also a bunch of important multi-access tools that have been printed which don't depend on the run being successful, and so don't care about Crisium Grid. This includes Docklands Pass and now The Twinning. The more popular these cards become in the meta, the weaker it is to run Crisium Grid.

Subliminal Messaging is obviously not a "power" card, but it has usually been fine to run it as a "one-of" in many decks. It usually translates to a small amount of free, clickless money. There are a few newer corp identities that have significant synergy with Subliminal Messaging.

Of course, Esâ Afontov: Eco-Insurrectionist can try to prevent you from getting back the Subliminal Messaging by initiating a run every turn, but if this does not advance their game plan of milling you, then this is it's own tax on the runner.

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