(Core Set Perspective!)

Players, meet Corroder. Corroder, players. You'll be seeing a lot of each other. Part of the (in)famous 'Anarch Breaker Suite', this is one of those cards that has not only remained strong throughout the game's life up to this point, but it's remained one of the baselines against which most traditional breakers will be measured.

Like most cards in the Core Set, I failed to fully appreciate this card the first time I looked at it. I did not see the numbers (the numbers, man...such beautifully simple numbers...). No, I just went, 'Oo, it's shinkling a glass thingy! =D' And a sound resounded in my head like someone walking through a beaded curtain made of old mirrors. To this day I have not figured out what it's supposed to be shinkling, but the image and sound have both stuck.

When I started playing and looking at these cards in more detail, I wasn't sure why it was so highly regarded. Sure, it didn't seem bad, but neither did it have the high boosting power of Aurora, or the sheer subroutine smashiness of Battering Ram. Both of these cards have a something to them that made them jump out and say,

'Hey! You there, the confused-looking one with the rulebook. You know you want to pick me, I'll be your Death Sheep/Cyberfloof anytime'. Meanwhile Corroder just sat there, saying little more than an implied 'hi' and filing its nails.

Now, for why I think it's so good:

Cheap on the wallet, cheap on the brain: At 2 it's the lowest cost fracter in the Core Set, meaning you are rarely in a position where you can't get it out on the table. And at 1MU it's not demanding a large chunk of your memory.

Pretty high on the potent quotiant: It's got a base strength of 2, which gives you a noticable discount against weak-midrange ICE. This will almost certainly seem like a small feature detail when you start, then you'll realise it's huge.

These alone are nice features. But, of course, as with many other cards it's the small, regular benefits that often make the biggest difference. Here's where you find the two things that Corroder absolutely has in its favour - flexibility and precision

You pay:

1 for +1 strength


1 per

Simple and effective. In fact that's underselling it. It doesn't get much simpler than that, and rarely more effective. It's a breaker with a good base strength that is exactly as strong as you need it to be for any given situation, with no credits lost in fancy features that you may or may not need.

Battering Ram by comparison feels like you spend ages trying to get the thing down, longer lining up all the ICE for maximum damage with things like Paintbrush, and only then do you see the best results. It's great when (if) you do, and it fits Shapers theme nicely, but it's undermined by Anarch's having something that is so much easier to use.

And Aurora is, well...it's Aurora. Its imprecise boosting is one thing (you'll often come up just under or over what you need), but its the 2 per is the thing that really hurts. And at 1 more to install over Corroder it's hard to find a situation where it would ever be needed.

Long story short, Corroder encapsulates the Core Set tradition of being one of the cards that's good in a large number situations and (perhaps more importantly) almost never bad. It's the safe choice, the reliable choice. It's the Desperado, the AstroScript Pilot Program of fracters. You include it in almost everything, because why wouldn't you? It's so simple, so effective (and not going to rotate out) that it sets the standard against which many cards after it were designed.

Before I only heard the shiny shinkles as it gleefuly dissolved whatever barriers it came up against. Now, after playing with it some more, I can sometimes hear the distant voice of the Fantasy Flight team going "We made such a great thing!...Crap."


(Core Set Perspective!)

Almost always handy to have around. If you don't need spare it'll pad out your hand against damage (and give you a little extra confidence runnng against Jinteki, I've found). When you do need it gives you what you need, when you need it at a price you can almost always afford. Good stuff! Not a whole lot more to add really, so I'll finish by saying I also like how it looks like someone just insulted Elizabeth Mills' mother



(Core Set perspective)

"Dude! someone broke into your stuff"

"Well, did you stop them?"

"Nah, but I got a sweet pic of it."

"...Ok, where is it then?"

"Oh, they deleted it."

Something about Hunter made me think it was bad from the first moment I saw it. Before I even knew the rules and I was just thumbing through the cards, I got to this one and thought "Hmm..."

My hmm was later confirmed when this card taught me that not all ICE inherently ends the run and you don't need to match the strength in order to pass it. Instead you can just breeze on through and give a cheery wave to what is basically a narcoleptic speed camera. It was the card that made me realise the terrible truth every player quickly learns, that the image you have in your head about ICE as these amazing engines of terror, isn't very accurate:

No, you won't be sponking the runner in the brain every turn.

No, they don't lose a click now, because they broke the subroutine.

No. Just no

Sad early games aside, the trouble is even if you know what Hunter can do there's very little to recommend it, because it can't do much. These are the problems I found with it:

  1. It gives them 1 tag, 1 (one). Not 1 for every point your trace exceeded their link. Not 1 for every unspent click the runner has. Just 1.

  2. They get it on their turn. If they have a spare click they can just remove it and suffer no consequences. Which leads to the additional point...

  3. It's trace 3, which doesn't sound bad, until you realise that with a 0link runner (Noise and Gabe in the Core Set) that means it's cheaper to take the tag and clear it than trying to avoid it in the first place. Provided they haven't run on their last click it they'll have time to remove it and put aside time for it in the future.

When you start looking into later packs you come across some things that could take advantage of a tag given during a run, Things like reflecto-cats and so on, but with just the Core Set there's nothing to really take advantage of a single tag given on the runner's turn. Your only real hope is to hit them with more tags than they have available clicks to clear them, and then that on the turn they do that you have some punishment awaiting them. Essentially you have to wait for them to make a mistake at the right time, in the right place.

Ultimately, it made me realise several of necessary but still somewhat sad truths about Netrunner, and I did start to play better (correctly) once I did. So in that way, I suppose I'm grateful for the quick lesson about how things really are, and how ICE actually works. So, thanks Hunter. You can go back to snoozing now.

I always viewed Hunter as a cheap, reliable means of early last click run punishment. For what it does, the price is about right... Because it just doesn't do much. —
The Corp cannot keep the Runner out forever, and comes a point in the game where the cost for passing an ice matters more than the effect of its subs. As such a 3 credits tax for the Runner for a cost of 1 for the Corp is quite good. Just use it to protect central servers and asset, not agenda. Also if as a Runner you feel that it's better to pay 2 credits and 1 click than 3 credits, change your econ engine. That's said, sure, there are better ices than Hunter. —
I re-read my comment and it sounds rough. Sorry for that, it was not my intent :) —
Not at all! I'm still speaking from limited experience so counterpoints are welcome! —
I think in the right deck, even with a single core, this ICE can be a pretty useful deterrent. Consider Weyland Supermodernism. You've got snares, Data Ravens, Sea Source and Hunter, and of course scorches. a Data Raven and a Hunter on RnD can be a pretty scary proposition. If you walk through and don't break Hunter, and hit a Snare, now you've got 3 less cards and 3 tags to deal with. In this kind of scenario, Hunter is a must break, you can't afford to just remove the tags because your clicks need to be spend on drawing up. And since it is strength 4, and Anarch breakers being the best in the Core set, it's particularly using against Mimic, requiring Datasucker tokens or an ICE Carver out to even have the option of breaking it. All that to say, it requires the right build, but it can be very useful. —
Good point. I think I often forget about Snare in R&D because you don't have direct control over it, but at the same time your intentions can't be read and it'll have recurring value the more they dig into R&D instead of a single card on a remote server. In that way I could see it being used as a 'tax with a chance of death' sort of thing. —

(Core Set perspective!)

Short for 'You Old Git', a perfectly acceptable response when someone looks at you, grins evily and makes a slow unlocking motion in your direction. Feel that? That's your clever puzzles and sharply-dressed headshot bots doing nothing, absolutely nothing.

There are a lot of moments in Netrunner that will make you appreciate the difference 1 can make, and not just in the useful trickles of money you get from doing innovative things like running or putting a card on the table. No no, I'm talking about the difference between 4 and 5 when you have a Sure Gamble in hand. I'm talking about having 9 when someone Forged Activation Order(s) your Hadrian's Wall. And in this case, I'm talking talking about the difference between 1 and 0 when someone wades through your carefully-placed stack of puzzling defenses.

The thing is, even with the most m4d pr0 breakers installed, the Runner will in most cases still have to pay something, even if it's just a sympathy credit or a power token. Sure, a Corroder shinkles through fuzzy walls for a measely 2, but damn it, that's 2! That's 2 they don't have any more, or 2 they had to flip over on a Cyberfeeder (I don't care! Let me enjoy this). If there's another wall behind it, that's like, 4! (100% more than 2!) You might think, 'I don't feel so bad now. Sure they stole my second Priority Requisition and I've got three agendas in hand, but they at least paid to get it.' And you'll hide a little sniffle behind that brave face of yours. You really don't appreciate this small consolation until you have a YOG go through your stacked Viktor 1.0s to yoink something out of your hand, for free. It's like a ghost just stole your lunch money. You're not even hurt, you just sort of sit there and go, '...oh.'

With a Parasite or Infohoover powered up as well it can make your life very miserable (or great, depending on what side you're on). It's absolutely worth the 5 cost and after a few games you'll instinctively know when it's coming, and after a while you won't even fear it, you'll just sigh at the inevitable and put down a sentry instead.

Now a of couple quick tips for playing against YOG.0:

  • As said before, as a general rule don't stack code gates. Spread them around. Show them the world. Let them live a little. Losing a few defenses on several servers will in most cases be preferable to losing everything on one.

  • Keep a Corporate Troubleshooter handy to surprise boost one of the various program killers you hopefully have installed. Raise an Ichi 1.0 or a Rototurret above their ability to break and you'll get a shot at it, and it's so satisfying when you do. Then you'll be sad when you realise you only have one of these guys in your Core Set.

  • Remember you can purge virus all virus counters for ,, (not one at a time, like I thought originally), which resets the threat on a lot of things YOG needs to overcome ICE it can't break on its own. It won't remove the problem, but it will give your some breathing room.

  • Sometimes, especially in a tight game, 5 can be hard to find. Prolong your safety from YOG by keeping the runner pressured. Install, advance, double-advance. Keep them guessing, keep them nervous, and keep offering bait that they'll pay their precious life monies to check. As long as they're doing that, that magic 5 will be further and further away.

  • If they've come to rely on YOG (which is easy to do without realising), a sneaky Aggressive Secretary in the late game can wallop them right in the prospects, giving new life to those code gates they'd written off as worthless, and opening up a scoring window you need to secure the game.

To sum up, in the Core Set you play your code gates knowing this will come out eventually. At 1-influence it's an obvious choice to include, especially in Criminal who don't actually have a Decoder of their own. It's a great thing to have and great pain to play against, but sooner or later you learn to deal with it. Fact is you won't have a choice in the matter.

omg InfoHoover...I lost it. Great review! —
You know, every time I see one of these, I think to myself, "There's no way he/she can keep this up. They can't all be quality reviews." You consistently prove me wrong. Thank you. —
Wow, thank you so much! You've all been very kind with your comments. I appreciate it a lot and I'll try to keep them interesting as I learn more. —
Troubleshooter can also put a Code Gate temporarily out of Yog reach, incidentally. —

(Core Set Perspective)

This card, ladies and gentlemen. This card. My appreciation of the word 'toll' has gone up just by association it with this Code Gate. I suddenly feel like crossing bridges and reading Hemmingway. More of a barrier than most actual barriers, 5 strength worth of economic runner-wrangling, 2 influence, gold EVERYWHERE; I love it. I love it so much. Whenever a runner hits this card I hear a resounding 'DONG', and imagine a shower of credits leaping from their pockets like Sonic the Hedgehog stubbing his toe on a robot crab. Even when I'm on the recieving end and all my carefully laid (premature) plans gets hit right in the coins, I feel like nodding and going 'well played, card, well played.' And I like to think it hears me.

'Ok, I can tell it's good. But why is it THAT good?' A new player like myself probably will (definitely did) ask. Well, let's take a look at some of the many reasons:

STRONG: As mentioned by many in the Netrunner community back in the day, the Core Set had a conspicuous set of monsters known as the 'anarch breaker suite'*. Powerful, cheap and easy to splash (use in other factions), these were the standard against which all ICE were measured, because odds are they were going to be what the runner used. In the case of Code Gates it meant facing the glowy key of woe, that renders all >3 strength Gates meaningless by walking through them for 0. One of the simplest perks of Tollbooth is that it's out of its reach, even if they have Ice Carver out. If they want to get through, they'll need to combo it with Datasucker. And even if they do, they still aren't doing it for free, because...

LIKE DIS IF THEY PAY EVRYTIEM =') - Its best feature isn't a subroutine, it resolves before everything else, and kicks the runner out if they can't cough up 3 bucks. Only once they've met this requirement can they even start breaking it.

  • Yog pays 3

  • Gordian pays 7

  • Crypsis pays 9,

  • Wyrm pays 15 (Don't ever do this)

Everyone pays. (Wait, was Someone there? Hmm, must have been my imagination...) The point is this will present a very tall obstacle for the runner when they encounter it, and will add a recurring cost to the runners efforts from that point on.

CHEWY: Usually a scary presence for ICE of all types, even Parasite will have a tough time eating this, and even if it manages it before a purge, the runner will have probably put most of their effort into achieving it.

As for ways to play against Tollbooth: - As everyone says, keep a Femme Fatale handy, as she is a direct answer to this card, albeint at a pricey 9.

  • If you can see (deduce) where an unrezzed one is, a timely Forged Activation Orders can force the corp to make a hard choice. If they trash it, they're down one of their best defenses. If they rez it, they just took an 8 hit that will likely limit them in other areas, such as servers with unrezzed ICE.

  • (This is obvious to anyone familiar with the game, but...) Run early and often. Force the Corp to spend money on early game ICE here and there to keep you out, and don't let them build up too comfortable a reserve. If they do manage to hard rez a Tollbooth early then you're in trouble. Your economy might not be in place to deal with the recurring toll, and without the proper tools you're as good as locked out until you can find them.

  • IF you know your opponent likes to get Tollbooths out early, consider swapping out a Yog.0 for a Gordian Blade. It will pay more to get through, a lot more, but it can do it alone.

To sum up this card is one of the best pieces of ICE in the Core Set, and well worth including in almost every deck you make, even if you need to cut another piece of 'big' ICE from in-faction.

*For more information look up some of the great retrospectives by people like Willingdone on Youtube. They're easy to follow I learned a lot from them!