(Core Set Perspective (mostly))

I really like Viktor 1.0. He's cheap-to-rez, has respectable strength and subroutines with both bite and blocking power. The trouble is that within the Core Set、 Viktor (and most other code gates) get a particularly raw deal, by being the perfect target for a certain glowing key of doom, which will sail through him for 0 and make you various kinds of sad. Ditto with Enigma. What this often boils down to is that you are either,

  • Stalling the runner by making them spend some (probably not much) time looking for Yog.
  • Making them pay 5 for the 3 you did to rez him.

Even non-key decoders don't exactly have a rough time of things, so it can be easy to write Viktor off as useless. Once the card pool expands and the variety of breakers isn't so limited, I've found Viktor gains new life, becoming a pretty respectable low-cost code gate. It also highlighted something I now consider to be his best quality, even if you only play with the Core Set - he's subtle.

Whereas big ICE like Heimdall 1.0 and Ichi 1.0 have the definite sense of being obstacles that really should to be broken with the right tools, Viktor is just low-strength and light on the subroutines (while still being 3 to break with something like Gordian Blade) to make the runner's fingers hesitate over that Special Order or Easy Mark and think, "Hmmm, maybe I'll just click through him instead?", and it's been surprising (for me, anyway) how many clicks Vik can sap from the runner without being obvious about it. They might not even notice. They might think "Where did the corp get all that money? When did they get the time to put all that ICE down? Why are my card choices so limited at the moment?" and the reason might just be that a lone Viktor has being quietly pewing away at their clicks and gradually nudging you into the lead.

Of course, it doesn't always happen this way. Sometimes the runner has the right thing on hand from the start. Sometimes they are drowning in cash and can just get all the breakers they need. Sometimes you're so screwed by an opening handful of agendas that you'll need something, anything, for a bit of protection, even if it's obvious. I'd say more often than not this will be the case, but in those instances where Viktor does come through, he can tip the game in your favour without even you realising it.

It seems like most people use Enigma and skip Viktor. I can see this if all you want is a good early gear check. For the same cost Viktor is as good or better than Enigma against all Code Breakers and has synergy with HB click taxing, bioroid, and brain damage effects. —

As with Priority Requisiton, I used to think the pair on the card were talking amongst themselves about the good old days. Now it's obvious they were talking about you and your young, little newbie self who needs to know every face down card before making a move.

"It's not your fault," the card says, "it's a scary world out there, full of nasty traps, angry admin staff and robots that want to sponk you in the brain. Who wouldn't wouldn't be scared? Smart, that's what you're being, so smart! Just take your time...Now, how about 2 instead..? No? Well that's ok, we'll just move on to solid foods later....What's in that server, you ask? Oh just another PAD campaign, again. But well done for making sure! You're so cute when you're cautious (pat pat)."

That's not to say that there aren't moments for it to shine when you become one of them m4d pr0, run with a capital 'R' hacking types.

  • Exposing a charged up trap can be a great way to make the time and money they've invested in it pointless. And if they were using it as a distraction then it can put a surprising amount of pressure on them to shift the actual goods out of danger as you narrow down where they could be hiding.

  • Towards the end of the game, when you're reaching that tasty bottom layer in R&D where all the syrup (er, I mean agendas) is, you can avoid wading through all the protection just to see if it's worth it, saving your monies for when you know it will be. (CORRECTION: As pointed out below, you can't actually expose non-installed cards. So you'll have to get your agenda syrup the hard way)

  • 2 for free isn't anything to scoff at, and can give you a little boost to put down or use one of your other tools in a clutch moment. It's not terribly exciting, but it can give you the wriggle-room you need when feeling the dreaded credit squeeze.

So it's not a bad card by any means, it's just one that is easy to use in a less than optimal way when you start out, and sadly by the time you have figured out some nice ways to use it, you'll probably have replaced it with something more focused and effective.

Wait, can expose be used on the top card of R&D? That changes so much if true. Can it also reveal a card from HQ? —
Expose effects can only target installed cards, so no, the top card of R&D and cards in the Corp's hand cannot be exposed. —
Ah my mistake! I'll correct that. —

"Hello Netizens! And welcome again to Just Run With It (an NBN Net special) with me your host, David Farkenburger. Today our focus shifts from anarchic and material pursuits, to the artistic; to the thrill of creation, the honing of one's craft and testing it in that most trying of environments - the cutting edge of virtual space.

Now, you may ask if such a thing possible? Can one really find beauty in the disruption of public services? Is it just 'expressing oneself' to manipulate delicate systems designed to keep sensitive information safe? And is it merely 'in pursuit of art' when someone sucks money, your money, through a triangle?

Answers to such questions might seem clear, obvious even, but we're all about fairness here, so to speak on behalf of this 'Shaper' movement is part-time internet drawing hobbyist and Hacker Débutant, KateIzLuvXX. Good evening."

"Hi! (⌒▽⌒) Great to be here. Do you know Kate? I love Kate."

"Yes, I may have guessed by your username. So, perhaps you would tell us why-."

"I drew a picture! That's her face." ʘ‿ʘ

"Oh my, very nice. Very abstract. Now, perhaps you can answer some of our and no doubt the audiences questions about what it is you admire about Ms. McCaffrey and the movement in general? What is it about her that you find so inspiring?"

"Ohh, so many things! Like, she's just, I dunno...rad? I mean, I've done some hacking in my time. Only yesterday I guessed my little brother's PAD password in less than four tries, but she could do that kind of stuff if she was LITERALLY dead. I've heard stories that she's so good with welding and electroboards and stuff that she basically gets everything at a discount, even more when she really tries, so she can spend more time running and less time warming-up. So cool! And some of the programs she uses are way imaginative. Like, have you ever heard of Gordon's Blade? They say it's so sharp it stays strong no matter how many things it cuts through! Gordon must have been a badass. ლ(`ー´ლ) That and she can do stuff like mould the internet to fit her style, like it was made of internet clay or something. And she's got this sweeeet rig that's super expensive but actually saves you some money if you use it more than five times in one night, so it's totally worth it. Basically she's just super creative! Not greedy or a jerk like those other guys. I want to be creative like her when I'm older, and break down virtual walls with sheep!" ヽ(´▽`)/

"And there you have it everybody, a fine example of the thoughts from today's youth, I'm sure you'll agree. But if I might tread on some more challenging grounds here, what about the morals of it all? That means 'is it right or wrong?' by the way. How can one admire someone who has (albeit allegedly) made a program to steal money from the hard-working taxpayer? You've studied taxes in school right?"

"Oh yes, of course! It's super interesting. And that's a good question Mr. F, but I've also done my own research, and you see the thing that makes it tricky or 'morally ambiguous' is that not only are those credits UN-certified and therefore insured from theft, but a lot of them also belong to companies who have made that money by doing things like forcefully taking over smaller businesses, gambling with the stock market and breaking The Earth in half. Not to mention replacing human jobs with Bioroids and Clones, which while making them much more short-term money is also endangering longterm consumer-based economic stimulus, and also avoids responsibility for this by shifting anger away from the people in charge and onto the poor things that make all that profit for them. I mean, if they make money like that, do they really deserve it?" (⊙︿⊙)

"...That's ah-...well I suppose you could...I mean 'endangering' is such a...we'll be right back after this!"

While very enjoyable reads, these past two reviews have felt more like creative writing exercises than reviews. Earlier reviews of yours have a good balance of fluff, analysis, and comparison. —
Honestly, in the case of these early IDs other reviews have generally discussed them to death (both on the card and on other key cards to use with that ID). In that case, reviews like this I think actually add more value than another analysis piece. —
I appreciate both your comments! Since I've actually been able to play the game more recently I'm hoping to move onto cards outside the Core Set as well, so I felt like doing something a little different to cap off the IDs before moving on. —

"Hellooo Netizens! And welcome to another evening of Just Run With It; virtual lives, virtual news, real stories. I'm your host, David Farkenburger. With me, as always, are my fellow panelists and professional experts, good evening to you all.

Now, tonight we'll be making some Noise, if you will, about a certain notorious figure out there in virtual circles, but also of a group, a group it's been said are close to some people's hearts, and on everyone else's nerves. Yes, I am of course talking about 'Anarchs'. So, what is an 'Anarch', exactly? An aimless, angry bond loosely shared by hypocritical malcontents, who would sooner spend the rest of their drug-addled lives spray-painting a giant middle-finger to the modern world, instead of enjoying even some of its benefits, or not? And is this Noise Reilly really deserving of his worldwide reputation, or is this hacker extraordinaire(ly) overrated? Those are the questions, and these are the answers.

My first expert on today's show is a veteran of the internet, and will be recognisiable to some as the 'Virtual Mom' of internet disputes - Judith Fondlove. So, in your opinion what are we to make of these people? Angry hooligans or merely misguided youngsters?"

"Oh, definitely the latter Dave. Y'know, a lot of people have this image in their heads of order vs chaos with them, fighting to bring down 'the man', but did you know their actions often improve the precautions taken by companies? I mean, yes his fondness for everything virus is a bit worrying, but before young Reilly came along, when was the last time your saw a corporation do something like guard their junk? When?...Exactly. They'd just leave it all exposed, for anyone to fumble around with. No-one needs to see that. Also these are some of the most worse-off kids on the block. Trust me kids, if you want to be like Noise, you'd better really want it, because he has to go out and make his money the hard way just like all the rest of us. Right now, he's impressive. If he could just focus his energy, his heart, into doing something for the good of society, then I think he'd be truly extraordinaire(y)."

"Thank you Judith, very sentimental indeed. Now, next up we have a man with a not so charitable view of our Irish-Chinese computer-whizz. Former hacker turned full-time virtual opinion-haver after his rig got eaten by its own programs, Mr. 'Sux2Run'. Care to share your thoughts?"

"Pfft, whatever. Why we even talking about this guy? Oo, look at me, I've got green in my hair! Oo, look at me, I'm so poor and have to get by on just my wits. Bull! The only reason he runs with almost no money is because, say it with me - He. Doesn't. Need. It. I mean please, some grungey underground punk just so happens to also have the best frackin' tools on the market? Just happens to have cutting edge jack-juice? Has a magic hacking pot AND internet genie to fetch aything he needs? And if he messes up he can just get it back?? Yeah, Ji- 'Noise', Reilly had to work hard with all that doing it for you huh? Clickety-click you can suck my-"

"Woah now! Ha hahhh, hoo...tempers running hot tonight, obviously. We need to take a quick break right now, but don't go anywhere! And if you've just joined us, don't forget to also catch our previous episodes, including last week's 'Gabriel Santiago - Smooth Criminal, or mostly 'armless?' All that and more, after this..."

You are the best reviewer on this site, bar none. Although I thought it was Weyland that had all the frackin' tools... —

(Core Set Perspective)

Like many things in the Core Set, when you first use something you'll think it serves a certain, necessary role. Then, as time goes on those views will most likely change. I used to think Lemuria Codecracker was an indespensible bit of kit that the other factions were at a severe disadvantage for not having; now I just think Gabe's about to give a credit card receipt to a door. I used to think PAD Campaigns were fragile little driplets that always needed protecting with at least three layers of ice. I used to think Desperado was bollocks.

In the case of Parasite, I used to think it was a vital part of a faction whose limited ability to deal with ice meant they needed a more permanent way of equalising the field. Now I realise it's just one of the many ways for Anarchs to be bunch of caustic jerks. Which is good! Because in my opinion that's one of the things they should be - a chaotic force of disruption that grabs the corp's carefully laid plan off the table, eats some of it, spits out some more, rolls the rest up into a makeshift kazoo and then parps loudly in their sad little ruined faces.

Parasite is your ticket to achieving that in the Core Set, one of the key things that gives you that malicious edge. Especially when working in tandem with good old Datasucker, you are able to not merely overcome, but actively wreck the other players defenses with worrying speed. Couple that with Noise's ID ability (frequently triggered by Parasite), and the ability to recur (get back) the little bastards with Déjà Vu, and you have a system of attack that not only threatens what they are hoping to get into their hand, but also weakening their ability to take advantage of it once it does.

Functionally, this all translates to agendas getting bunched up in HQ, being thrown in the bin or going down without adequate protection. With the Anarch breaker suite being as good as it is, you could Shaper your way to victory quite happily, but where's the fun in that?

To finish, here's a few things I've noticed during my time with it:

  • Rezzing big ice early is usually a solid investment for a Corporation but against Parasites it becomes a potential waste. Do you rez it early and risk not finding the cards you were hoping to put behind it, or do you wait until they show up? By which point you might not have the option.

  • It might be tempting to hold onto your Parasites for juicy targets, but the earlier you use them the more times you'll benefit from Noise's ability to trash cards, and you can always get them back later. A middling piece of ice in the right place at the right time is much more valuable than a big piece when it doesn't matter.

  • Having Grimoire ready for Parasites (or any viruses) is ideal, but don't do what I did and have it hold back your plans if it doesn't show up. Waiting for the ideal set-up can and will cost you games. The nice thing about Parasite is it will always be useful in some way, even if it's not quite as potent as it could have been.

  • Wyrm is aways going to be a little unwieldy, shall we say, but with Parasite you can at least give it some meaning. While it's not as strong as Datasucker for bringing ice down to be gnawed to bits, Wyrm doesn't rely on virus tokens and will keep the danger of your little green nibblers present even after an annoying purge.