Let's talk about shell games.

The Corp installs a card face down in a server! What could it be? We have four main options:

  1. It could be an ambush, directly hurting the Runner who runs into it. Something like Urtica Cipher or Snare!.
  2. It could be an agenda! This is what the Runner is looking for, typically (with a few weird exceptions like the now-rotated Haarpsichord Studios and Game Changer decks).
  3. It could be a "must-trash" card; something like Ronin, SanSan City Grid, or Commercial Bankers Group. These are comparable to agendas in their shell game uses, with the exception that running on them doesn't help the Runner actually win; it merely helps them not lose.
  4. It could be a complete waste of the runner's time and money getting into the server; NGO Front is the most famous member of this category, but there are also things like Spin Doctor, things like PAD Campaign which aren't normally high trashing priorities, and even tech cards that happen to be near-useless in the current matchup.

"Traditional" shell game decks rely on their ambushes (category 1) to protect everything else, meaning that they're typically light on ICE (due to all the deck space you need for the ambushes). This isn't an inherently horrible strategy, but it also hasn't seen all that much success recently; a typical 45-card Runner deck can often deal with it without tech cards simply by playing cautiously and accessing only a random subset of cards (in the hope that some of the Cerebral Overwriters get stranded).

There's another way to do shell games, though: if you're playing a more traditional style of deck (maybe not full-on glacier, but at least using servers that are expensive to get into repeatedly), you don't really need an ambush to play shell game. There are plenty of cards in categories 3 and 4 that will drain the Runner's resources trying to reach them, either because they have to (categories 3) or because they think they might have to (category 4, masquerading as 2 or 3). Build yourself a moderately taxing server or two, keep installing things in it/them, and eventually you'll build up a large economic advantage and be able to win the game more or less however you want.

This sort of "taxing shell game" deck is generally better than the traditional variety because it can save a lot of deck slots. That NGO Front might be useless to the Runner, for example, but it isn't useless to the Corp; even if you IAA it and they don't run, you basically spent 2, for 8, which is not a horrible rate of return, and so you can fit it into one of your economy slots rather than having to remove ICE for it. The same goes for many of the other cards in that sort of deck; they're serving a useful function of their own, and just happen to be usable for shell games as well.

As such, the usual Runner-side counterplay for this sort of deck is to exploit a structural weakness: the shell game doesn't really work if the Corp has to leave their agendas advanced overnight and thus reveal them as advanceable cards (really cutting down the number of options for what they could be). This gives the ambush-less shell game decks their more usual name: "never advance". And if you're never leaving a card advanced during the Runner's turn, you're normally stuck with just 3 clicks for scoring it; that means 3/2s, or when you run out of those, 3/1s. Winning with only those is really inefficient; you're spending both more clicks and more credits to score out than you would be scoring 5/3s, and that gives the Runner time to build up a lot of multiaccess and hammer R&D, or a rig that's efficient enough to negate your ICE and make running your useless assets cheap enough that it isn't a tempo hit any more, or do whatever else their rig is meant to do.

So hey, what would happen if there was a card that completely negated the main drawbacks of these decks? The problems with never-advance decks basically boil down to "we don't have enough 3-advancement agendas without resorting to those with major downsides, like 'being only worth 1 point' or 'being Merger', and even the good ones like Project Atlas don't do anything if scored as a 3/2 and are a bit of an economic hit". The effects that help keep your economy going don't go on the 3/2 agendas; they go on the 4/2 agendas. There's a lot more redundancy there, too; my review of Corporate Sales Team lists a lot of options, and you can fill out most of your agenda point requirement with economic 4/2s nowadays (if you're going all in, 3 each of Corporate Sales Team + Cyberdex Sandbox + Offworld Office is 18 agenda points on its own). So being able to consistently never-advance 4/2s as though they were 3/2s can launch the runners' attitudes towards never-advance decks away from "the opponent is doing weird stuff, let's just play normal Netrunner and blow up R&D" and more towards "this deck can't be beaten without adapting to its strategy, I need specific tech cards to beat it".


If I'd written the review up to this point at this time last year, everyone would have assumed I was talking about Jeeves Model Bioroids. Jeeves is a better card than Seamless Launch in most respects; he/it's reusable, and gives you benefit in all sorts of ways beyond never-advancing agendas. Jeeves has proven his/its worth time and time again (a simple way to see this is that it's a 3-of in both the 1st and 2nd place decks in last years' Worlds). (Incidentally, another card that fits the description is La Costa Grid, which is often playable in the same decks as Seamless Launch but seems to be a little worse in practice; however, the decks often play both. La Costa Grid also has other uses, although most of them combos, rather than Jeeves' general-purpose benefits.)

How does Seamless Launch compare to Jeeves? It's only better in 5 specific circumstances:

  1. You can't get Jeeves to stick; the Runner keeps trashing him/it as soon as it's installed. Trashing Jeeves is very expensive (5) and you can add ICE on top of that (and if you're in HB, you have recursion to help even more), but there are Runner decks that are teched to do it; and except in weird situations (e.g. Full Immersion RecStudio). you won't be able to use your scoring server to protect him/it.
  2. Your deck can't afford even 1 click to install Jeeves, on a turn before never-advancing an agenda. This is possible in sufficiently fast decks, but unlikely.
  3. Your deck can't afford the 3 extra it costs to never-advance a single agenda with Jeeves, compared to Seamless Launch (1 on play/install costs, 2 on advance costs). Note that the difference reduces to 1 for any subsequent agendas you advance with the same Jeeves.
  4. Your deck can't afford the influence for Jeeves. This mostly happens when you don't have a reason to import many HB cards from out of faction, although there are many good options like Magnet and Marilyn Campaign which bring the influence cost down to an affordable level. Jeeves costs only one dot more, though, even when you don't have the alliance turned on.
  5. You want to use two cards to never-advance a 5/3, and sadly aren't allowed to do it using two copies of a unique asset. This is probably jank, but might be towards the more playable end of jank? (People are apparently running decks with both Seamless Launch and Obokata Protocol at the moment, and sometimes have this as a plan B, but I don't know how well it's working.)

This means that Seamless Launch is only really playable in two sorts of decks: very fast decks that run incredibly tight on time or economy, and one-remote glaciers that have reasons not to want to create any runnable servers or that are unable to effectively bluff anything in a second remote. Pretty much anything else would be better off running Jeeves instead. That said, the sorts of decks that do prefer Seamless Launch are really good, and ended up being one of the main factors in Violet Level Clearance getting banned again. (One of the primary decks that inspired the ban was a super-fast rush deck based around Seamless Launch and Precision Design, with Precision Design allowing you to use the same Seamless multiple times, and Seamless Launch allowing it to run an agenda economy, together with way too much card draw to keep the economy going and fuel defensive upgrades like Anoetic Void. It's almost certainly still good, and may need further bans to bring it down to a beatable power level.)

The result is a card that's quite hard to evaluate. Seamless Launch is basically only usable for never-advancing agendas and/or assets/upgrades; you can't use it to fast advance agendas because it can't be used on cards installed that turn (and using it on ICE, or the Runner's cards, seems kind-of pointless). You can't win the game with it without some sort of recursion, because each copy of Seamless Launch can naturally only never-advance one agenda. Your deck has to have some reason to want to never-advance 4/2s (or 4-advancement assets) in particular. Its only real advantages over Jeeves Model Bioroids are "not being an asset" and "not being unique", with everything that that entails. But, when you do have a deck where it fits perfectly – when you're running an agenda economy but need to never-advance your agendas, and can't spare anywhere to put assets, and have some way to cope with not drawing it or having spent it already – it makes the deck much, much stronger. As such, I expect to see it in only a minority of deck archetypes over the next few years. However, it may well make those archetypes may strong enough that they end up being played a lot relative to other decks, with Seamless Launch ending up all over the place anyway.

In my experience it's hard to justify this card in a deck. If you're playing it in a non-Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity deck you're down one credit when you rez it, putting you in a similar spot as PAD Campaign, but you end up with an asset with a lower trash cost and that provides the runner with a free Corporate Defector, more or less. 2 credits is nothing to sneeze at and the Runner will likely know this, so you'll probably need to put this behind some good cover otherwise they'll trash it and you'll have lost an asset and paid a credit for the privilege. A bit risky - probably won't see this card in the other factions' decks.

Within Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity you break even on the rez and from then on it's 3 credits a turn. Not bad at all! That's Daily Quest territory, and like that card this one also requires a good amount of protection and forethought. However, it also comes with a bit of anti-synergy with some of the other tools Hyoubu has at it's disposal. Celebrity Gift, Drudge Work, Hyoubu Institute: Absolute Clarity's own ability, and others stop generating that extra credit since it gets used by Public Health Portal's passive. The trade-off sort of works - you'll only play so many Celebrity Gifts or Attitude Adjustments in a game after all. But there's always the variable of your draws being slowly revealed to the Runner, which can really screw over your plans if the Runner is attentive enough.

If you cannot use Imp (which is strictly better) you could use Scrubber. Hopefully, you will trash multiple assets to make this card worth its cost. The first time you'll use it, it will have reimbursed its own cost. Using it more is like getting 2.

This card has two competitors that use to trash cards : 1. Fencer Fueno, which combo with Keiko and is free to put on the board. 2. Miss Bones, which gives you a whopping 12 in one go to trash cards. Letting you trash multiple SanSan City Grid or Jeeves Model Bioroids at only the cost of 2.

In my opinion, both options are better than Scrubber. Miss Bones is just more efficient (but will not work on card found in centrals). The drawback of Miss Bones is more than compensated by the fact that you could do multiple run in one turn to trash multiple assets. Which is amazingly useful against asset spam decks.

Fencer Fueno is free and can be used to pay for stealing an agenda like Bellona. Which will help a great deal. As such, it is usable in a wider variety of circonstances and against more corp archetypes. On top of this, it is the same influence cost.

Is Scrubber worth it? In certain cases yes. It allow you to trash card everywhere, as long as it has a cost. If you do not use Imp, it might be better for René "Loup" Arcemont: Party Animal to use Scrubber. Because René "Loup" Arcemont: Party Animal gain a lot from trashing everything that can be found.

Quote would fit in any destructive card, which is great here. The art is just so much fun. Putting this card on the board is inspiring. Enjoyable.

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Not a good sentry breaker. Why? Because of its fixed strength.

Is it worth it? Maybe, with the right tools. But those tools must be useful for your other breakers. Otherwise, it is not worth it to have multiple tools to fix only one breaker.

What are those tools? In faction, you have Leech and Ice Carver. Both of which lower the strength of the ices. Those will help you get the sentries to a strength of 3. It will only cost you in additional creds and clicks to install those. This means that it cost you at around , 4 and 4 to make Mimic work, if you use Leech. But Leech will be usefull for Buzzsaw and Cleaver. Once setup, anarch become very efficient at breaking ices, just like shapers.

Out of faction, you can use Dedicated Processor or Takobi. The former being better than the latter. But it is not as efficient as using Leech and Ice Carver.

Of note, Injection Attack is useful here, while you are trying to find your combo cards. There are very few sentry above a strength of 5 (Hydra ,Trebuchet and a stacked Surveyor are the most notables).

Considering that Echelon and Na'Not'K cost 1 influence, you must need your influence greatly to not use those breakers (there is also Carmen at only 2 influence). But if you use only anarch breakers, using the aforementioned tools will let you be efficient in breaking ices (while being somewhat slow to setup). This is why Mimic is unlikely to be used out of faction.

It is a bit sad that this breaker has such drawback, because the art and quote are very cool. Still, is has its place.

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<p>As one of the old guard, it's fun to see how perceptions have shifted. In the early days of Netrunner, Mimic was undeniably the best Killer in the game. Before Mongoose, we really didn't have any good options to break sentries besides Mimic and Faerie. And now we have Bukghalters and Carmen and Nanotk and their ilk, spoiling us for choice...</p> —
Imp

Imp

If you want to trash a corp card, Imp is the best for that, followed only by Stargate. Imp give you the option to trash the card, even if it does not have a trash cost (this last part is important).

This will deny the corp options for their game plan. It does not matter if the card is expensive to trash, like SanSan City Grid or Jeeves Model Bioroids.

This will also let you trash agenda. This is especially useful against Jinteki: Personal Evolution, since it avoid the cost of stealing the agenda. But it also avoid the problem of the corp using Punitive Counterstrike after you would have stolen the agenda. Since it was not stolen, it cannot be used against the runner. Note that recursion tool can be used by the corp to safeguard themselves against trashing effect (Spin Doctor, Genotyping, Preemptive Action).

This is nearly a mandatory card for René "Loup" Arcemont: Party Animal, since it enable the ID in a major way..

You can combine Imp with Friday Chip or Knobkierie to keep it relevant throughtout the game, since it will then never lack virus token.

Of course, like any virus, this will combine with Cookbook, to get more mileage from Imp.

At 3 influences, it is tough to use it out of faction, but it is often worth it. In the early game, Imp is devastating for the corp. 2 to trash 2 cards (no matter what), is a bargain. So much so that it is worth it for the corp to purge as soon as the card is on the board.

Great art, good (but semi relevant) quote. Amazing card.

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