So, the obvious purpose of Lucky Charm is as a counter to instant run-ending effects like Border Control and Nisei MK II. As the other review points out, it's pretty bad at this job, due to having way too many limitations (it does reduce the cost of a Border Control + Surveyor server, because the HQ run is going to be cheaper than running the server, but typically not by enough to actually get in, and it doesn't save clicks, only credits).

Still, cards in Netrunner are often usable for non-obvious purposes. In particular, there's a strategy known as "trigger stacking". Think about a card like Aeneas Informant; seems pretty innocent, right? If you try to use the card for a little bonus economy, which is its obvious purpose, it doesn't do very much. However, say you install it along with a couple of other cards with the "Whenever you access a card with a trash cost not in Archives and do not trash it" trigger (like, e.g., another couple of Aeneas Informants). Now, it suddenly makes sense to start running the Corp's PAD Campaigns and intentionally failing to trash them, in effect clicking for 3. The card normally has a bad effect because the trigger doesn't naturally happen often enough to be worth the reward, but if you're stacking up a lot of cards with the same trigger, you can set off the trigger intentionally to get a lot of bonuses at once.

"Make a successful run on HQ" is a trigger that's pretty commonly seen on cards. So that means that Lucky Charm might potentially be viable in combination with other cards with the same trigger; running HQ just to trigger Lucky Charm isn't worth it, but triggering a lot of cards at once might be. Unfortunately, it won't be as simple as just running an unprotected asset, but there are cards like Feint whose entire purpose is to trigger successful-HQ-run triggers. So you can imagine a deck that plays a few Feints, a few Lucky Charms, and many cards that care about whether you get into HQ, and maybe the Lucky Charm will be viable!

Unfortunately, the picture isn't as rosy as it seems from this. The problem is, that you don't just care about getting into HQ; you care specifically about getting into HQ when you're planning to make an important run later in the turn, and lots of successful HQ run triggers don't help that much for that purpose. Sure, Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional's trigger is nice, but that 2 is almost certainly more than the cost of the HQ run in the first place, and running as Gabriel is simply just going to entice the Corp to put extra ICE on HQ. So although there's a wide spread of possible triggers you could stack with Lucky Charm's, only a few of them are actually useful in practice.

The second-most viable trigger stack I've discovered with Lucky Charm is Silhouette: Stealth Operative along with Wari. The idea is that you get into HQ using Feint, allowing you to expose a piece of ICE, in turn allowing you to guess what it is and bounce it back to the Corp's hand, making the scoring server just a little smaller (ideally you would bounce a Border Control). Then you get to run on the scoring server, and avoid one ETR on the way. Especially when combined with Inside Job, this can get you into scoring servers that are much deeper than the Corp might expect, even without icebreakers (normally you can get through a 3-deep server even without any appropriate breakers). This is a fun thing to do if you really badly need to get into a scoring server to stop the Corp winning. Is it competitively viable? Well, the combo itself has an effect of the required level, but unfortunately it means that you have to put several otherwise terrible cards into your deck (Feint? Wari? Lucky Charm?). So any deck that's trying to do this is doomed to be fundamentally inconsistent and too tight on deck slots. In other words, it's jank.

That said, there is one really strong trigger stack involving Lucky Charm, which has impressed me a lot and makes me think that the card does indeed have a home: Lucky Charm together with Apocalypse. Just like Lucky Charm, Apocalypse has a requirement for a successful run on HQ (which Criminals can often accomplish conveniently using Feint). It also has a requirement for a successful run on R&D; that isn't a scoring server, but it's another server that tends to be well-protected. If you simply make the HQ run first, then having a Lucky Charm installed will make it a whole lot easier to get into R&D. (This is especially the case because you don't care about, e.g. " Trash 1 program." subroutines on an Apocalypse run, because you're about to blow everything up anyway, so Lucky Charm is enough by itself to get past otherwise very taxing ICE such as Archer.) Even better, Apocalypse is definitely a competitively viable card, and Feint is definitely viable in an Apocalypse deck because it saves so much money when doing the Apoc runs. (You can combine this with the Wari combo if you're a jank fan. It might not even be bad! But in practice, I've found that typically the Wari setup is unnecessary for a Lucky Charm Apoc deck; typically you have enough bypass to get into R&D even without it.)

Conclusions: Lucky Charm is a bad card… unless you happen to have a deck that needs to be able to run difficult servers and needs to do so on the same turn as an HQ run for some reason. In other words, this is a card for your Criminal tri-run decks (generally Apocalypse, although I guess if you prefer Exploit or Quest Completed or Notoriety or whatever, go mad). It isn't a (viable) hate card; if you're trying to get around the Corp's run-ending effects, you'll sadly have to look elsewhere, so run it only if it's a perfect fit for what your deck is trying to do.

I've been playing a variety of rush decks recently (that is, decks for which at least part of their strategy is scoring out behind a small piece of ICE, before the Runner finds an appropriate icebreaker for it). When you're playing a rush deck, you want:

  • primarily 4/2 agendas (so that you can play ICE click 1, agenda click 2, and advance it click 3, ready to AAA it next turn; 5/x is too slow to advance, more than one 3/1 means you fall short of 7 points, and not enough 3/2s exist to build a deck out of them)
  • cheap ICE that ends (or effectively ends) the run
  • some way to afford to rez the ICE and place the advancement counters (ideally clicklessly so that you don't have to take turns off)

The ideal game plan for a rush deck looks something like this: turn 1 install ICE and agenda, turn 2 score it, turn 3 install agenda, turn 4 score it, turn 5 install agenda, turn 6 score it, turn 7 install agenda, turn 8 win. If you're using 4/2 agendas, that costs a total of 21 and 16. You get a total of 24 clicks in your first 8 turns (and remember, if you take even one additional turn, your opponent has more time to find their icebreakers and force you to switch to a backup strategy). That means that you have only three spare clicks, and will probably need to use some of those on cards like Fast Track to actually find the agendas. A rush deck thus faces the imposing problem of making 11 with only three spare clicks (possibly fewer).

Given what card this review is being written on, you can probably guess at the solution to the problem: hey, wouldn't it be great if there were a 4/2 agenda that clicklessly generated 10 credits? Corporate Sales Team has been simply amazing in my rush decks; it's a 1-card economic engine that gives you almost all the economy you're going to need in a short game, and it does so with no relevant costs at all. You are going to put 4/2 agendas in your deck, because you kind-of need them to win the game. You are going to advance them and score them (or the deck loses regardless). And that is the only cost that needs to be paid to use Corporate Sales Team; there isn't even an influence cost, so you can do this in any faction and with no deckbuilding restrictions (it even helps fulfil the agenda point requirement!).

Just to give some idea of the power of this card: recently I was speculating about "how much influence would a neutral 45/x ID with no ability need to be balanced in Standard", and decided as a joke to build a 45/0 deck to see what happened (with no actual blank 45/0 identities in standard, I simulated it by using New Angeles Sol: Your News together with only neutral cards with no influence cost). My turn 1 was Vanilla, install Corporate Sales Team, advance it. On turn 4, I scored a second Corporate Sales Team. On turn 8, with the help of a Fast Track to sneak an agenda past the opposing Stargate (and a bit of luck when a click 3 Stargate revealed two agendas as the second and third cards, allowing me to basic-action-draw one because the Runner couldn't trash them both nor trash the card on top and steal them both), I had scored out. This was, of course, a completely fluke win that's unlikely to be replicated in a tournament, but it was only remotely possible because the Corporate Sales Teams provided enough economy for the entire game between them.

The main competitor to Corporate Sales Team is Oaktown Renovation. There are two primary differences between the cards. Oaktown Renovation has the slight downside of producing only 8 rather than 10 if you advance it normally (i.e. clicking for AAAA); however, it also has the relevant upside of producing those credits while being advanced (rather than spread out over the next 5 turns after it is scored). Oaktown Renovation also has the downside of your opponents knowing for sure that it's an agenda, but in a rush deck, that typically doesn't matter much. That said, trying to decide which is better is pretty much pointless. If you are building a rush deck outside Weyland, you can't legally run Oaktown Renovation anyway, so the decision has been made for you. If you are building a rush deck in Weyland, you can and probably should simply just run both cards; you're probably going to need 10 agendas, after all.

Although this review primarily focuses on rush decks, Corporate Sales Team is also playable even in other deck styles (it's also worth noting that the cards needed by a rush deck don't come to 45 slots, so most rush decks will use their remaining slots to implement a backup plan, perhaps transforming into fast advance or glacier to get the final few points through if their early run falls short, so it's nice if your rush agendas can help you with your backup plan too). A clickless 10 might not be sufficient for your deck's entire economy if the game lasts beyond the first 8 turns, but it definitely doesn't hurt; many Netrunner games end up being decided by only a few credits, so a 10 swing is easily enough to have a decent chance of swinging the result of the game in your favour. Generally speaking, it works best in decks for which credits are the main limiting factor (as opposed to, e.g., being short of clicks, or where the deck aims to attack some resource of the Runner rather than gather resources of its own); although it's good anywhere, the opportunity cost starts to add up if there's some agenda that might fix your deck style better.

If you're considering putting Corporate Sales Team in your deck, here are some similar agendas you might want to consider using alongside it or instead of it:

  • Oaktown Renovation: very similar to Corporate Sales Team, and discussed in more detail above. Weyland-specific, and produces 8, but while you're scoring it rather than afterwards.
  • Cyberdex Sandbox: produces 4 for the first one you score, and 8 for the second (12 for the third but this never happens in practice). Also lets you pay to gain 4 if you have one scored, or 8 if you have two scored. This is basically an economic agenda tuned for longer games, because once it's scored, you'll rarely have problems gaining credits in an emergency. It also plays very well with other Cyberdex cards, and the "Cyberdex economy" is seen in a wide range of Corp decks nowadays (most notably Jinteki glacier, which loves both the credits and the anti-viral side effects).
  • SSL Endorsement: basically the glacier version of Corporate Sales Team. It produces 9 over 3 turns rather than 10 over 5 turns, but with two notable differences: it's a 5/3, and it triggers even if stolen (thus passively defends itself in the centrals early-game). In practice, this turned out to be pretty much an autoinclude in any deck that wanted 5/3s (forming a notable part of their economies), became a Corp staple, and eventually ended up getting banned to weaken Corp as a whole because Corp win rates were too high and almost everyone was running it.
  • Bellona: another 5/3, basically the NBN-specific version of SSL Endorsement (and not banned). The swing is only 5, but instant, and triggers both on score and steal. In NBN decks, this tends to double as both economy and a win condition
  • Advanced Concept Hopper: another 4/2 that gives credits (or optionally cards) over time, this time HB-specific. This one is focused more on the long games than the short ones. Is the runner going to make at least 10 runs after you score it? In many of the faster decks that want 4/2s, the answer is no, so Corporate Sales Team works better. If your deck is a little slower, and runs out of HB, you might want an Advanced Concept Hopper instead (or as well).
  • Timely Public Release: clicklessly installs ICE (and lets you see what the breakers the Runner has available for the run before choosing which ICE to install). Just as Corporate Sales Team fixes the problem of a rush deck being short on credits, Timely Public Release helps to fix the problem of a rush deck being short on clicks, by doing something you want/need to do anyway (installing appropriate ICE to keep the runner out) without needing to spend a click to do it. Probably not strong enough to make most rush decks, although it's an obvious choice if you're stuck in a neutral identity with no influence :-P
  • Remastered Edition: an NBN-specific 4/2 that can fast-advance a 3/2 on a subsequent turn. When used as an economic agenda, this only saves you a click and a credit (so you might as well be using a 3/2 instead, although you're probably going to be running 3/2s alongside it). Sometimes that's enough to win a game, but more relevantly, it provides an excellent fast-advance backup plan for if your initial rush plan ends up failing; if you can't rush out four agendas, you can use the Remastered Edition to automatically win as long as you have a 3/2 in HQ at the start of the turn and the Runner has no fast-advance hate. So this can be seen as providing reach / the ability to close out a game to rush decks that might otherwise fall short a little too often.
  • Vulnerability Audit: a neutral 4/3 that can't be fast advanced. This is a high-risk high-reward play for rush decks; if it gets stolen the Runner can win off just three agendas, but if it gets scored, you can win off just three agendas as the Corp, potentially leading to a win on turn 6. Good in small quantities in rush decks, especially rush-glacier hybrids.

Also worth noting is that the various faction-specific 3/2 agendas are, in effect, 4/2s that costs , 1 less to advance (and Project Atlas and Project Vitruvius can alternatively be scored as a 4/2 with a bonus ability, with Atlas's being particularly helpful for rush decks). So although the 3/2 stat-line is more associated with fast advance decks than with rush decks, 3/2s often make for a worthwhile substitute for economic 4/2s when you're planning to rush, as they save you just that little bit extra.

In summary: if your deck is planning to win fast, Corporate Sales Team is pretty much the perfect agenda to score on turn 2, and will probably fix your economy for the entire game; you are likely to want three of them in your deck to increase the odds of seeing them early. If you're planning on letting the game go a little longer than that, it's still good, but will have more competition, and might end up not meriting the deck slot (and/or messing up your agenda point distribution, which in some decks is very constrained).

<p>Amazing review. Very thorough. I agree with everything. Of note, this agenda is now viable because PAD Tap is banned (this is more a historical note, for newer readers).</p> —

It's been over two years since the last review. Anansi has gone from merely being "very interesting" to "all over the place, please send help" and a candidate for the best piece of ICE in the game. Generally speaking, it's a 3-of in any Jinteki deck that can afford to rez it, and my deck-building process for Jinteki decks nowadays starts by putting in the agendas and three Anansis, and then thinking about the rest of the deck (and about what sort of economy it needs for rezzing Anansis to be a reasonable option). It's also probably a large part of the reason why, in top-level play, glacier decks tend to be run out of Jinteki nowadays.

So why is it so dominant? There are basically only three ways through Anansi:

  • Breaking the subroutines. This has a typical cost of around 7. 7! With some breakers, it's a little more, and with some, a little less. But in any case, this is considerably more than most runners can generate in a turn.
  • Face-tanking the subroutines (and the trigger). That's 4 net damage (you can pay 2 to draw a card in order to survive at 3 cards in hand), and the corp gets to draw a card if they want to, and to rearrange R&D.
  • Using a bypass (e.g. Inside Job, Security Nexus) or pseudo-bypass (e.g. Boomerang, Grappling Hook) effect. This doesn't work very well on Anansi; you end up paying the cost of your bypass or pseudo-bypass effect, will typically have to let a sub fire if using pseudo-bypass (the "draw a card" sub is normally the least damaging), and still end up taking 3 net damage.

In other words, this is not a piece of ICE you can run through repeatedly by any reasonable means. If Anansi is on a central server, then any run through it has to be very high impact in order for it to be worthwhile. Take an event like Diversion of Funds; that's a double which produces a 9 swing (5 gained, 5 drained, 1 to play the event), one of the largest swings in Standard. Now imagine running a Diversion of Funds through an Anansi; you're paying around 7 to break it, so you made a net gain of 2 if you don't count the cost of playing the event, or broke even if you consider that you could have clicked for 2 with the clicks you used to play it (and you probably had a better use for those clicks anyway). This means that as soon as you have an Anansi rezzed on a central server, it's effectively safe from anything short of a giant The Turning Wheel run, or a Legwork run when the Runner already knows there's an agenda or two there. The cost of running an Anansi simply isn't worth it when you aren't sure that there's something good waiting for you inside the server.

Counterbalancing this amazing taxing power is Anansi's 8 rez cost. But the rez cost is only 8; most highly taxing ICE is more expensive than that. (I was going to put a list here of similarly taxing ICE to an Anansi, but ran dry on comparisons; there simply isn't anything that taxes quite like an Anansi. ICE with comparable break costs include Wormhole which requires more support, Chiyashi which costs 12, and Susanoo-no-Mikoto which costs 9 and is way more vulnerable to Boomerang.) This also, importantly, means that Anansi is cheap enough to plausibly rez on turn 1; a very common turn 1 play for Jinteki decks is to ICE HQ and R&D and play Hedge Fund, and now aggressive runners are stuck because you really don't want to run into an Anansi on turn 1. Anansi is thus comparable to Hard-Hitting News in that it invalidates entire Runner deck archetypes, by making early aggression incredibly risky. Just like an NBN deck might not necessarily have the Hard-Hitting News, a Jinteki deck might not necessarily have the Anansi; but the Runner has to respect the threat, and so the mere existence of Anansi keeps you safe even if you don't draw it.

The main drawback of Anansi is that it doesn't actually stop the run. When the Runner hits it (maybe as a facecheck), things are going to suck for them, but they may as well continue the run after they do; they're going to have to slog through the Anansi no matter what, and the run will still be going afterwards. This doesn't matter all that much if you place the Anansi on HQ; a face-checking Runner will get one random access there, which is the sort of thing that Corp decks are used to (and maybe you can draw a Snare! off the subroutines). It matters even less with an Anansi on R&D; if the Runner can't break the subroutines, it will protect the top of R&D for you.

However, it is the reason why you mostly only see Anansis in Jinteki decks. With a piece of ICE this good, you don't really want to have to limit its versatility by putting it on a particular server. I've experimented with Anansi out-of-faction, in decks which want out-of-faction ICE (and that can afford to pay the rather large influence cost), and although it works fine on centrals, it has too much of a tendency to be face-tanked if placed on a remote (this is often the cheapest way to "break" it). In Jinteki decks, though, reducing the number of cards in the Runner's hand by 3 might as well be an " End the run." subroutine; accessing a Jinteki deck's remote server is the sort of thing that you can typically only do with a full hand, otherwise you end up wasting a run on an Obokata Protocol or flatlining yourself on a Snare! or Project Junebug. So this is basically the perfect example of a piece of Jinteki ICE; you need the 3 net damage to be meaningful before you can put it just anywhere, but if it is, its stopping power is very comparable to its taxing power.

There's one other strategy with Anansi that's easiest to explain by looking at its break costs with common breakers:

  • Bukhgalter: 5 if it's the first sentry of the turn, 7 otherwise
  • Afterimage: 2 stealth + 2 (or 2 stealth + 3 net damage)
  • Aumakua: 3, but you need 5 virus counters (side note: this is a likely reason why Jinteki decks so often run a Cyberdex Sandbox economy)
  • MKUltra: 9 (this is by far the most common killer in Anarch decks, and it's also the least efficient in this case)
  • Odore: 6, 8 if you're missing the virtual resources
  • Eater: 6 and you don't get to access cards in the server
  • Engolo: 7, only works once per turn
  • Ika: 4 if you haven't broken any other sentries since the last time you broke the Anansi, 6 if you have
  • Na'Not'K: 9 if the Anansi is alone on a server, 6 if there's other ICE (or 3 if it's a 4-deep server, but that rarely happens in practice)
  • GS Shrike M2: 6

And just for fun, a selection of some not-so-common breakers:

  • Golden: 6, or an effective 13 + to derez
  • Faerie: 3, but it only works once, ever (so it's more like 3 + + a card)
  • Femme Fatale: 9 (the bypass doesn't really help)
  • Musaazi: 7 virus counters
  • Pipeline: 11 (but this never happens, nobody actually uses Pipeline)
  • Amina hosted on Dinosaurus: Amina is a decoder. But assuming the Anansi is a code gate, 2. (I umm, may have created a deck designed to paint ICE as code gates and break it with Aminasaurus. And if I did, Anansi was the entire inspiration for the deck in the first place.)

The pattern's a little hard to spot, but: among common breakers (other than Aumakua), if they can break Anansi cheaply, they get more expensive if there's another sentry on the same server. Ika costs money to move back and forth. Bukhgalter's discount applies only to the first sentry broken each turn. Afterimage ends up draining the stealth credits faster than they replenish, and Engolo can't break more than one sentry per turn without help from another card. This is another reason that Anansi works better in-faction; Jinteki has a lot of good sentries, and pairing another decent sentry with an Anansi is a quick and easy way to make a nightmarishly expensive server that's only moderately expensive to set up.

Above, I said that the main drawback of Anansi is that it doesn't actually stop the run. It has another main drawback, too: as with almost every card in Netrunner, you can only run three of them. Most decks want a lot more than 3 of the effect. If you're reading this review, you may be thinking about playing Anansi and wanting more; so it makes sense to mention some "second-best" options that can emulate Anansi in different respects, in case one fits your deck:

  • Mlinzi needs to be placed into a grinder deck for the subroutines to be meaningful, but when it is, the facecheck is arguably even stronger than Anansi's, and the break costs are effectively the same.
  • Engram Flush is considerably more porous than Anansi, and is vulnerable to Boomerang, but has a decently high tax on centrals (and a much lower rez cost to make up for the lower break costs).
  • Chiyashi has comparable break costs, arguably a slightly better facecheck punishment, hates AIs, and ends the run, but a rez cost of 12 is much harder to reach than Anansi's 8 and it is much more vulnerable to bypass effects.
  • DNA Tracker is very Anansi-like, but suffers from being a code gate (with decoders that can handle large ICE being very commonly run in all factions but sometimes Anarch).

And in other factions:

  • Endless EULA usually taxes 6, but is very fragile to cards like Chisel and doesn't need a breaker at all.
  • Tollbooth has comparable break costs when you take the access trigger into account, but is very vulnerable to shenanigans (most famously Femme Fatale, but cards like Hunting Grounds and pseudo-bypass also make it sad).
  • Data Ward is more expensive to break, but suffers from massive positional issues due to the need for a tag (and generally falls apart to Inside Job as a consequence).
  • Týr is unique and 5-influence, making it hard to use effectively, and the facecheck is less effective if partially clicked through.
  • Fairchild 3.0 is very good, but a little "smaller" than Anansi (cheaper to rez, lower tax), and has a tendency to get trashed via triple-click + Hippo.
  • Archer has higher break costs, but a nasty rez cost (making it vulnerable to being derezzed), and has no protection against bypass effects.
  • Tithonium became pretty much unplayable when Paperclip was unrestricted; Paperclip breaks Tithonium for 4, and almost everyone runs Paperclip. It used to make for an interesting Anansi alternative/supplement before that, though.

In summary: Anansi is basically the perfect piece of ICE for central defence, and is well worth its rez cost (which is high, but not unusably high). Its effectiveness on remotes rather depends on what impact "pay 2, draw a card, take 4 net damage" has on the runner; when you play Anansi in-faction, that's effectively going to end the run (and make Anansi just as good as on the centrals), but in other factions the Runner might not care as much. In any case, it is basically the dominant piece of ICE for Jinteki decks nowadays, making early facechecks (even more) unwise against any red deck that has 8 to spare.

The other review focuses on the never-advance potential of a 4/3 agenda. I've been looking at Vulnerabilty Audit from a different point of view, though: from the point of view of a deck that scores it "normally" (IA, AAA score).

5/3 agendas are typically only played if they can protect themselves somehow. We have a few forms of protection:

Self-protecting 5/3s are played all over the place nowadays, because some of them are really good; however, agendas that protect themselves in the centrals are often played in kill decks (which aren't looking to score), and agendas that protect themselves while installed are often played in glacier decks (which have well-protected centrals and where the Runner might be looking to make a few pinpoint runs to raid your scoring remote).

Vulnerability Audit is not, of course, a self-protecting 5/3; it doesn't have any text that protects itself, and it isn't a 5/3. However, in practice, it plays a lot like a City Works Project. The reason is that when you install it and advance it, unlike a 5/3, you have an extra click (and less importantly, an extra credit) left over, and you can use that click to, e.g. play an operation. In other words, the agenda doesn't protect itself when installed; but it buys time for you to protect it when it's installed, by taking one click less to advance into scoring range.

For example, a good combo is with NAPD Cordon. A Bellona costs 5 to steal, and is generally considered to be one of the better agendas at protecting itself. If you install and advance a Vulnerability Audit, and play NAPD Cordon, your freshly installed agenda is now going to cost 6 to steal, and as a bonus any agendas the Runner may access in your central servers will cost 4 to steal. Bellona is a good card; but if you are running NAPD Cordon (and can protect HQ to stop the runner trashing it), Vulnerability Audit compares favourably.

Similar considerations apply to other lockdown cards, e.g. combining Vulnerability Audit with Argus Crackdown gives you most of a City Works Project, while Hyoubu Precog Manifold gives you a Future Perfect that works while installed rather than while uninstalled.

Vulnerability Audit has more flexibility than that, though. Say you're playing a hybrid rush/glacier deck (which I suspect is the best place to play this agenda), and get a Vulnerability Audit in your opening hand, together with a Vanilla or similarly cheap piece of gearcheck ICE. If it had been a 5/3, you would have had to leave it in your hand, and either ICE HQ in order to prevent it being stolen (slowing down your gameplan), or else ICE a remote and hope it doesn't get stolen before you can score it, or else ICE a remote and park it unadvanced in the remote and hope the Runner doesn't find a way in in the next two turns and you don't draw a second agenda before then. With a 4/3, you can simply install, ICE it, advance, and be in position to score it next turn. 5/3s are normally unplayable in rush decks, but 4/3s can hold their own; that one extra click you get means that you aren't losing tempo.

Or, perhaps, say you're playing the same deck, but draw your 4/3 a little later in the game; you now have plenty of ICE protecting your scoring server, but can't afford to rez it. A spare click to play an economy operation can make all the difference between having to leave it vulnerable in HQ, or having to give the Runner two turns to steal it from the remote (or one but with insufficient ICE).

This card does have one huge downside, though: it does absolutely nothing to protect itself when it's sitting uninstalled in a central server, so you're running the risk of having 3 points stolen with no compensation. In my experience, if your deck is fast enough, this doesn't matter that much; the Runner will get a few agenda snipes but you will still win first. It does somewhat narrow the decks that you can put your Vulnerability Audit in, though.

(It also costs a dot of influence, but that's minor by comparison, and expected among neutral agendas like Global Food Initiative or Vanity Project that reduce your agenda density. This is a three-point agenda, after all, and thus the mere act of putting it in your deck will open up deck slots. Being able to pack in additional in-faction and neutral cards is often a good trade-off for being able to run fewer out-of-faction cards.)

In conclusion, Vulnerability Audit is an agenda for "fast glacier decks" or glacier/rush hybrid decks, that aim to score out before the Runner can consistently break their ICE, and run lockdowns and similar cards in order to protect their 4/x agendas and open scoring windows through the midgame. It doesn't directly protect itself, but it does buy you the time needed to protect it some other way via saving time advancing it. Just be aware that it will weaken your central servers considerably, and you will need either the ICE to keep the Runner out of them, or else the speed to score out despite having your agendas sniped, in order to make that drawback manageable.

Daily Quest is one of the more interesting Corp economy cards.

If all goes well, Daily Quest gives you 3 per turn. That's a huge amount of income, the same rate as Commercial Bankers Group (a card that was restricted for quite a while and is played in almost every deck that can protect it). So as long as you can keep your Daily Quest up and running, it's going to be a highly effective source of economy.

Of course, this sort of power comes with a drawback. Daily Quest has a few drawbacks, but they're all connected to each other: unlike most economy cards, this one really needs to be placed behind ICE. And not just a Pop-up Window, either, but some proper ICE that will tax the runner out of wanting to make repeated runs on the server.

Instead of listing the drawbacks, I'll instead visualise them with a few examples of the ways Daily Quest can go wrong, taken from actual games:

  • You put your Daily Quest behind an Eli 1.0, a nice solid piece of taxing ICE. The Runner is using Security Testing and Paragon. At the start of their turn, they Security Test the Daily Quest server, run it, click through Eli, and replace their access. That's spent, 5 gained (2 from Security Testing + 2 from Daily Quest + 1 from Paragon), and the ability to slightly stack their deck. Five credits for three clicks is typically a good trade. A few turns later, the Corp gives up and installs over their Daily Quest to stop the runner using it as an economy source.
  • You put your Daily Quest out in the open in Jinteki: Replicating Perfection, with some horrifyingly big ICE on your centrals to protect it. The runner pays their way through the ICE, bounces its server twice in order to regain some credits, and trashes it last click. Unlike any other asset you might have put there, it's refunded the cost of breaking your centrals ICE to reach it, and (having been trashed immediately) hasn't done anything else in the meantime.
  • You put your Daily Quest in a server behind a single huge piece of ICE. The Runner uses their Hippo first click to trash the ICE protecting it, spending the cost to break the ICE, then runs the now unprotected Daily Quest three times in order to regain the credits they lost breaking through. The Corp has lost the credits they put into rezzing the protecting ICE, and has to scramble to re-protect or install over their Daily Quest (I can't remember which happened in the game, it was a while ago now, and may have got some of the other details wrong as a consequence).

So in order to make Daily Quest work, you have to place enough protection on it that the Runner can't ever cheaply launch repeated runs at it; if they can do anything to make runs on it cheaper, then you've basically created an economy card for the Runner, not for yourself. The usual methods of protecting assets in asset-spam decks aren't going to help, either; the Runner only needs to run its server, not to be able to trash the asset. This thing needs to be Protected™, more so than you'd typically protect a central server.

This basically means that there are only two ways to use Daily Quest which actually sort-of work. The less janky is to use it as though it were a burst economy card; many decks will have one heavily protected server, their scoring server, and Daily Quest will normally be safe there if you aren't using it for anything else. You will eventually have to overinstall it once you need your scoring server for an agenda, but 3 per turn while you're waiting for your scoring server to be in demand is still quite a lot of econ; even just two turns of Questing is the same gain as IPO, and three turns is an 8 profit which is the sort of gain that most single cards can't deal with. Many slower decks will frequently go three turns without any other use for the scoring server. I frequently see Corp decks do this, and it works, although it does feel a little like a waste.

The jankier way is to make a deck designed to protect Daily Quest, possibly even multiple copies at once. You now face the imposing task of protecting two (maybe three) central servers, a scoring remote, and an economy remote or three; against aggressive Runners, it's difficult enough just to protect your centrals and one remote, so fitting in some additional protection is even harder. But maybe you feel like it could be possible if your entire deck was focused on it. So you fire up a "horizontal with ICE" ID, such as Asa Group: Security Through Vigilance or Acme Consulting: The Truth You Need, cram your deck full of enough ICE to protect everything, and sit back and watch the credits roll in. (I've tried building Daily Quest decks out of both of these IDs, and playtested them against real opponents, specifically so that I could write an informed review of the card.)

You then face a couple of new problems. One is that Runners are often quite good at making single runs on important servers; after all, they typically want to stop the Corp scoring agendas, and getting into Daily Quest's server is comparable in difficulty to that. You can't use any sort of shell game to protect Daily Quest, either (as you could with a non-public agenda); it has to be face up and rezzed to work. So the Runner knows exactly what they're aiming for, gets into the server, and pays a net 1 to trash it. Sure, there are ways to recur trashed assets, but now you've devoted pretty much your entire deck (and maybe a decent proportion of your influence) to Daily Quest, you'll find that you don't have the deck space to function without it, and so the Runner just needs to make a few precise runs and your economy falls apart.

The second problem is, say you do manage to protect your Daily Quests; there have been some games where I've done it. One game as Asa, I got up to 105 in my credit pool with the help of three Daily Quests (and a couple of PAD Campaigns). The issue is, while you're busy setting them up and icing them and icing your centrals and starting to build a scoring server, you're necessarily going to draw a lot of cards. And Netrunner has this annoying rule that your deck has to contain a certain number of agendas, so those are going to end up filling up HQ and eventually having to be placed somewhere before you're ready. You're already dedicating much of your deck to ICE and economy assets and backup economy so that you can afford to rez the ICE that protects the Daily Quests and to tide you over when they inevitably get trashed; are you going to find the slots for agenda reshuffle too? And if you do, how are you going to stop the Runner simply charging up their Turning Wheel for 20 turns and then accessing the entirety of R&D in one huge run?

The basic problem with the Daily Quest deck is that economy does not win a Corp games. Economy wins a Runner games – a Runner who is rich enough should nearly always win – but the same is not true on the Corp side, because you are restricted by how much ICE you can install and rez and clicks to advance agendas and room in your various servers to hold everything. So you start looking at cards that protect your agendas using credits rather than ICE – SEA Source combos, say, or Punitive Counterstrike – and somehow find the deck space and influence for them.

Then you discover that Runner economies are crazy at the moment, and even when you get up to 105, the Runner managed to earn 42 in that time and is taking enough precautions against Punitive Counterstrike that you would need to hit them with three of them to flatline. So even though you have one of the most monstrous Corp-side economies in Netrunner, it's still somehow never enough.

Conclusions: Daily Quest has a great effect while it's online, but keeping it online is not worth the trouble; it is possible to protect it, but at the cost of having a deck that doesn't do anything else (such as winning). I'd love to see the Daily Quest deck work, but somehow don't think that it does. On the other hand, the card can still be worth a deck slot in some decks: putting it in your scoring server for a few turns, treating it like burst economy, is a good way to make use of some dead time in a glacier deck. Just don't be greedy; as soon as you need your scoring server for something else, simply go and score out. Rolling around in your huge piles of cash is all well and good, but (in an unfortunate flavour disconnect, especially if you're Weyland) it's agenda points you need to actually win the game.

<p>Nice review = )</p> —