4/3 is arguably the most powerful type of agenda in the game. The only other of its kind is Improved Protein Source, and just like Vulnerability Audit it comes with a downside. The former gives the runner money, this can't be fast advanced. Having to install advance this seems like a huge liability but... Oh hi there Jeeves, didn't see you there.

If you have a deck with 4/2's and ways to never advance, I think this is a good agenda to consider. If your plan is to iaa, you probably would prefer SSL Endorsement, or an in-faction protective agenda. Especially since this does take up influence. It is a good alternative over Global Food Initiative though since it doesn't take up your unicorn spot.

661

Shapers have The Maker's Eye, Criminals have Legwork, Anarchs now have both. Sort of.

Climactic Showdown is a potentially powerful resource with a ton of versatility. It stacks with other forms of multi access, like The Turning Wheel, eXer or the aforementioned run events. It works on either central, thus you can pick the optimal server at the time. You also get to choose which server the corp has to trash ice for to dodge the access effect, so if the corp only has a rezzed Tollbooth or a Chiyashi on the remote, this is one of the cheapest ways to trash an expensive piece of ice.

Unfortunately, CS comes with a fair share of downsides as well. First off, the corp has a whole turn to prepare for your shenanigans. This makes it a lot worse than multi access run events, which benefit a lot from the surprise factor. Not only that, the corp has a choice in the matter. If they just installed a mediocre piece of ice on the server of your choice, they can just opt to trash that. And if they'd rather take their chances on your run, that is up to them. Also, this WILL trigger at the start of your turn, as the effect is mandatory. If something came up that makes you not want to use it yet, too bad. You could play Dr. Lovegood to blank this card so you can keep the timing a surprise, but that might be going into jank territory. Last but not least, it removes itself from game, so you have no way to recycle this.

I think this card is good enough to see play, but it won't be an anarch staple.

661

First off, lovely art, love me some foxes, so A+ there.

"Infinite" drip cards are strong. More so if they come with few conditions like Data Folding and Rezeki, but Trickster taka is still a strong card. Nearly every runner ( side-eyes breakerless Leela ) wants to break ice, and for that you need to pay for your ice breakers. This helps with that, similar to Cyberfeeder. Every turn this fox spawns a credit into a neat little pool. Unlike Cyberfeeder, which is 1 recurring credit, this means you don't have to run every turn to get full value out of it. But in a stroke of design brilliance on Nisei's part, you can't just lean back and twiddle your thumbs forever while this keeps ticking. After 3 turns you have to run (since it doesn't work outside of one) and use some of these credits, or you will either take a tag or have to say goodbye to the fox. You can use Taka for all programs tho, not just ice breakers, so it works with SMC, Surfer, etc.

The most exciting part for me however, is Taka's subtype: Stealth. Many stealth cards have long since rotated and it is very exciting to get a new one. Unfortunately the archetype never took off in anarch, as they have to import too many cards to make it work and I don't think this will change that. Same probay goes for criminals, although I think Switchblade is probably a lot better than BlacKat.

But I think this card will truly shine in Smoke. While Net Mercur is still the star of the show, having an secondary (infinite) source of stealth credits is really good. Especially since Smoke likes to run often and is usually not shy for influence. Taka allows you to go to the aforementioned Switchblade over Dagger, which absolutely hoses ice like Surveyor, Trebuchet and Tour Guide, and in testing i found you are able to use Net Mercur credits more freely if you have your stealth needs covered.

So in short, will definitely see play as a breaker drip card and probably also as a 1 off in Smoke.

661

While it is slightly situational, I think Focus Group is the one card in Downfall that really screams "overpowered" to me.

For starters, let's compare it to the most famous fast advance tool, Biotic Labor. While that operation might be more flexible, giving you an unconditional extra click, it will nearly always be used to score an agenda requiring triple advancement. For this purpose, you are set back 3 clicks, 1 card and 7 credits. For Focus Group, it only costs you 2 clicks, 1 cards and 6 credits, provided you "hit" at least three cards in the grip. If you hit two, it still gives you the same return as Biotic. Not cheap, but also not terrible in my opinion. Let's also not forget this card is harder to effectively counter with anti-FA-best-boy Clot.

But the real strength of Focus Group is in its potential upper limits. Many runner decks consist mostly of events and resources, and having 4 of either on hand isn't that uncommon. And if that happens, you can fast advance a 5/3 from hand. If you have multiple copies it even becomes child's play, while admittedly very expensive. It also works nicely with the never advance game, especially if you have won the game of Beale or no Beale, so that you can get 3 or even 4 points instead of 2.

Obviously the main balancing factor of FG is its dependence on the runner's hand, meaning it can backfire spectacularly. Luckily (for the corp), NBN has a few tools to peek at the runner's hand. The most obvious is Standard Procedure, which was always a decent card but willl become a staple in yellow FA. Peeping Tom and Waiver might actualy start seeing play. Harishchandra got a a fun new toy and I think Focus Group will be good in Azmari too since they have some control over the runner's plays, especially backed up with Scarcity of Resources.

Requiring a succesful run is another drawback, but as most runners will be set up and aggressive by the mid to late game, this card will rarely be dead, especially in non-glacier decks.

A possible counter play the runner has is of course keeping their hand size low, but this obviously carries the usual risks associated with having few cards on hand. I could totally see this card replace Biotic Labor in Jinteki PE decks, especially considering the lower influence. There are also ways to keep the runner's hand full, like Personalized Portal and Pālanā Agroplex.

Looking at the card pool again, I think Focus Group comes out strong in most comparisons. Game Changer and MCA Austerity Policy are technically stronger but take way effort to set up and can be trashed by the runner. Shipment from Tennin is cheaper for 3/1's and 3/2's but it doesn't let you fast advance a 5/3 and you need two copies in your hand for a 4/2. Calibration Testing, with Breaker Bay Grid and Team Sponsorship is also powerful but folds to asset hate.

So yeah, maybe I am overestimating the potential of this card, but I think it will be a serious problem for the upcoming meta.

661
I don't think giving Corps a way to win is "a serious problem for the upcoming meta". Hopefully this is the first step to breaking up remote camp meta. —
I think the card's reliability will be its hard drawback. You mention that it has the chance to fail spectacularly, which I think is a great point. To FA a 5/3, you need to Install the 5/3, then use Focus Group and hit 4 or 5 of the same card type. If you get only 3, you now have a 5/3 on the table with 3 advancement counters on it, and no way to score it this turn. In that case you could choose to not pay X, but that sounds like a no-win situation. Never-advancing 5/3s seems quite within the realm of possibility. Definitely a strong card. But I'm looking forward to the spectacular fails. —
People who try to FA 5/3's with FG are either fearless or crazy. When you're using FG as a tool to FA 3/2's and 4/2's, only needing to hit 2 or 3 becomes easier and more reliable. And that reliability is what makes FG very dangerous. —

A shaper console in blue disguise! For the low cost of 2 credits, hardware you install after this will give you a free card. This is especially strong in Geist in combination with Spy Camera. Other hardware to combo with this console include Sports Hopper, Clone Chip, HQ Interface and Lucky Charm.

The second ability obviously works very well with Az McCaffrey, whose ability negates the +1 cost so that you can install one piece of hardware for no click each turn.

While this card will definitely see play, run-oriented criminals might still prefer Paragon. Probably won't see play out of faction either due to the 4 influence pips.

661
Don't forget Flip Switch! Very interesting to see if big-rig Criminals come out of this. —
I am definitely gonna try my hand at that! —
Can you use stimhack money for the second ability? —
Don't see why not, the run has already started. —
Cool, so bad pub money is on the table as well? —
Yes, bad pub credits are gained at 1c of the NISEI Timing Structure of a Run and "the run begins" at 1d. —