Interesting ice because unlike most other ice its bite is not in setting back the runner but advancing the corp. Losing a is annoying but expected against HB. Giving the corp 2 extra clicks in a turn, provided the corp has some credits, is a massive risk of moving the game 1/3 of the way toward a corp win (4/2 score). Despite being utterly porous this is ice that a runner, outside of hail-mary runs, has to break.

A 6 4 strength code gate is a bit on the expensive side. For comparison Fairchild 3.0 is 6 for 5 strength (and one extra sub). That makes it a bit hard to justify putting in Nightdancer unless you have some backup plan to make sure the subs fire, such as Marcus Batty, or if you have a way to reduce cost like Jinja City Grid (from the same set). Note that because Nighdancer is not a bioroid the usual HB tricks for rezzing ice (Awakening Center, Bioroid Efficiency Research, Howler won't work.

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Jinja Grid will only help with the install cost, not the cost of rezzing it. —

I see some use for this in a Chronos Protocol deck, provided you draw it early enough. If you draw it early it has a good potential to snipe a key card from the runner's hand, even if you're otherwise low on credits. Later in the game the effect will be smaller as the runner will mostly have set up their tools and the chance of an AI being out is higher.

A more subtle use of Mganga can be to trick the user into getting their AI breaker on the board and then using cards that are worse when there's an AI breaker such as Chiyashi. However, this is something which works with other traps such as Whirlpool as well and I'd rate Whirlpool higher in terms of scariness (with Mganga you know what you could get, with Whirlpool there's the potential of running into some deep nasty traps with no way out). On the other hand Mganga is reliable, it doesn't need a server with ice behind it and/or facedown cards inside it to be scary.

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Gene Splicer is an interesting time bomb. It's a Catch 22: damned if you do, damned if you don't. It's both a trap (net damage) and a way to score agenda points given enough inattention from the runner (time bomb).

As a trap it's a bit on the light side. It does 1 net damage per advancement token. Consequently it only triggers when installed, it doesn't help centrals. On the bright side it doesn't cost anything to trigger. Compared to Project Junebug it's 1 net damage per advancement, not 2, which is the difference between a mild setback and a significant setback, given 2 counters. Unlike Snare! there's no 4 activation cost, but no tag either. Also I'd consider Snare! a different kind of trap, more of an R&D/HQ defense since you can't advance it normally to look like an agenda. Psychic Field has the potential to do a lot more damage but is much harder to pull off since it has to be installed and you can't advance it normally. Hokusai Grid only does 1 net damage and costs 2 to activate, but it's more flexible since it's an upgrade that can protect an agenda (nice with Obokata Protocol). Of course you can add a Hokusai Grid to a Gene Splicer server to make it look more like an agenda and add a bit of sting if the runner falls for it.

As a time bomb, a card that the runner must answer Gene Splicer is relatively mild. A Ronin is much more dangerous with the potential to trigger a flatline. Allele Repression is in a way more insidious than Gene Splicer, not providing clear agenda points but allowing the corp to both recur cards and hide agenda's in archives during a run on HQ; not to mention all kinds of tricks when combined with other Jinteki card management tools. Possibly there are more Jinteki time bombs, I just don't know them off the top of my head and time bombs lack a predictable text to search for in Netrunnerdb.

Note that Gene Splicer can also be seen as a straight 3/1 that doesn't give the runner anything when stolen and thus as a way to increase agenda density.

Now to combo's and worthwhile interactions:

  • Tennin Institute can add free advancement counters to Gene Splicer. Those can add up to an agenda point and thus encourage the runner to either run more (dangerous) or trash the Gene Splicer (net damage). Of course you can put advancement counters anywhere but with Gene Splicer you can even get an agenda point out of them without Trick of Light.
  • Chronos Protocol adds an extra bit of sting by letting you choose which card gets trashed by net damage for the first net damage of the turn. That makes running Gene Splicer a bit less attractive.
  • Jinteki: Potential Unleashed also adds a bit of sting by trashing the top card of the runner's stack. Note that unlike Chronos Protocol this happens every time the runner takes 1 or more net damage, not just once per turn.
  • Hokusai Grid as mentioned can add an extra net damage (for 2) and make the server look more like an agenda server.
  • Trick of Light can be used to move some advancement counters to an actual agenda, e.g. to fast advance a Braintrust or a Philotic Entanglement.

And here's a combo that looks interesting, until closer inspection:

  • Tori Hanz┼Ź has a double effect in a Gene Splicer server. She turns one net damage into brain damage if the runner runs (at an effective cost of 5) and facedown she makes the server look more like an agenda server. Unfortunately you have to reveal her before the runner chooses which card to access first so she'll get trashed before she can upgrade that net damage from Gene Splicer.

Somewhat out of the box Gene Splicer might see some play in Weyland because when scored it counts as an agenda and thus can be forfeited to power e.g. Archer or Jemison. It can also be liquidated with Back Channels (a trick that's also useful in Jinteki btw).

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I wouldn't call it a straight 3/1. It needs another click after the 3 advancement tokens, so it's a 4/1, kinda. A card, 5 clicks total (including install) and 5 creds total (rez cost plus advancing normally) is not a cheap way to get a point. 3/1s are played for their effect and scoring this is like a blank 4/1. A light trap, as you say. A mild time bomb. And n expensive bonus point. It can fulfill 3 different roles poorly. Well, if you can make a deck where all roles are used, this could be a flexible card... —
Err, you're right. Braino. It's indeed very bad, which is good since if it was a straight 3/1 it'd be too powerful since the runner can't steal it. —
I don't think you can see the roles separately really. The three roles combine to create a very Jinteki time bomb. There's no clear "you must do this or else" for the runner so the runner is left guessing what the corp is hoping for. And compared to Junebug you have a chance of at least hitting your opponent even if they guess it's a trap. So for players who are less experienced in setting traps it's a better choice than Junebug. —
In Weyland, I guess you could fast-advance it with Dedication Ceremony. —
Haha, yeah, FA with Dedication is an option of course :D —
It's also a good target for Mushin, save 3 credits and 2 click —

This is the HB Obokata Protocol. But of course HB being HB it's less about hurting you and more about stopping you. HB has quite an arsenal of tricks to make you run out of clicks during a run such as the ubiquitous bioroids and Mr Stone.

So let's see what combines well with this. Obviously I'm a sucker for punishment as I always make some dumb mistake when making these lists so be sure to check the comments for what I got wrong this time.

  • Bioroids, bioroids, bioroids. If you can trick the runner into spending their last click this agenda is unstealable.
  • Strongbox is good with Ikawah Project and the other options by virtue of boosting the steal cost to two clicks. Btw, you may install multiple (though they'll probably be trashed).
  • Mason Bellamy ensures the runner loses clicks when breaking ice. Mason Bellamy + Ikawah Project in a 3 ice server where all ice is encountered and must be broken means the runner cannot steal the agenda without extra clicks.
  • Enhanced Login Protocol can further reduce the clicks available to a runner. It can be avoided through event based runs though.
  • Heinlein Grid works with the other options by making the runner so broke they can't pay 2 to steal. I don't think it works with Strongbox and the click cost on Ikawah Project since that would require the click cost to be paid first and the credit cost after that instead of simultaneously. Note that if the runner steals Ikawah Project first they'll still lose all their remaining credits. So they have to trash Heinlein first, which costs 3 (in practice this means that a runner with 5 or less will end up with 0 credits one way or another).
  • MCA Austerity Policy lets you reduce the clicks available to the runner. However it requires you to spend a click on your turn first, which is not really what you want to do when scoring a 5/3 as expands the scoring window for the runner from 1 to 2 turns.
  • False Lead when scored lets you remove 2 clicks mid run. Scoring it is a bit of a downer of course but False Lead + Strongbox + Ikawah leads to a pretty safe scoring window.
  • Ryon Knight doesn't do anything to protect Ikawah Project but it can add a bit of vengeance.
  • Manta Grid could set up up with another click the next turn, though it rules out the (stronger in my opinion) Heinlein Grid.

The 2 cost is unlikely to be much of a hindrance to the runner, but occasionally it will trip a runner up. As mentioned it does set up a combo with Heinlein Grid that could be interesting.

What the name refers to is not quite as clear as with some cards. I suspect it's a reference to a writer: Alexander Ikawah who's an Kenyan (note Nairobi in the flavour text) SF writer, at least some of his work (from skimming posts I found on the internet) seems to fit the cyberpunk style.

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Another thing to consider is that if the runner steals it, you can get a card from archives onto the top of R&D with Seidr's ability (assuming it's stolen before Seidr has already triggered) —
I don't think Ryon Knight actually would be of any help--by the point the runner has accessed Ikawah Project and paid the click cost to steal it, there is no longer a window to use his trash ability. —
https://www.facebook.com/pg/ArtByAlexanderIkawah/photos/?ref=page_internal —

In the new meta after rotation and the introduction of the revised core set Pheromones is looking better than it used to. Runners now have less economy due to all the banning and restricting going on with MWL 2.0 so economy cards are more valuable than they used to be.

Pheromones is useful for criminals that get into HQ regularly (which is to say: winning criminals). After a few runs or just one run and a few turns the recurring credits will have outweighed the install cost. A Pheromones with just 2 is a two credit per turn income source, though you can of course only use those credits while running on HQ.

Being a virus program Pheromones is vulnerable to things like Macrophage, Cyberdex Virus Suite and plain old purging virus counters. Macrophage is probably the biggest issue, it's a silver bullet against viruses and when placed in front of HQ is likely to nullify the economical benefits of Pheromones. Cyberdex Virus Suite is a bit of a pain but if you hit it in HQ at least you can trash it. Just beware of running archives when CVS is in there. Purging is the least of your worries. At the very least that free turn you get is worth 4 and of course you could try to run HQ again to get some counters back on Pheromones. Oh and of course a free turn could be exploited for all kinds of criminal mischief, you're a criminal, right, think of something.

In anarch Pheromones might see some action as well given that it's reasonably priced and combines well with other anarch cards. Pheromones on a Progenitor kickstarts the economical benefits and anarchs have other tools for getting virus counters onto cards as well like Virus Breeding Ground. Combine Pheromones with Fester and the whole purging thing becomes less likely. Combine it with Incubator and you have at least one run cheaply. With Lamprey HQ runs are both cheaper and cost the corp money (be sure to add Ixodidae in the mix if you do that). And with Hemorrhage you can make the corp dump cards before you access HQ, increasing the chance of hitting agendas (corps are unlikely to dump agendas in archives against anarchs, so they'll probably discard other cards).

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