This review was written shortly after the release of The Liberated Mind.
I've played with this card extensively out of Armand "Geist" Walker: Tech Lord. He is almost certainly the best ID for this card (free-to-install + has a on it), and might be the only ID that generally has enough synergy in his decks to get the most out of it. This review assumes you are running it out of Geist.
The trash ability is good for reasons noted elsewhere (in-faction R&D pressure, save time/credits/etc on fruitless runs, know the corp's gameplan). Geist gets an additional draw out of the deal, and will typically be running multiple Tech Traders which throws in a few . Great.
Here's what you can do with the trash ability.
- Look at the top card of R&D, run R&D to steal the agenda (or trash the asset) that you just saw there.
- Look at the top card of R&D, do NOT run R&D, do NOT hit the Snare! that you just saw there.
- Jackson Howard counterplay: if you run R&D, the corp will be tempted to rez JHow and pop him before you get your grubby mitts on the top of R&D. This can be used for a lot of purposes (threatening archives, preventing the corp from getting an important operation, cutting off their ability to draw, etc).
- Geist Stuff: Draw cards to avoid getting flatlined, gain money from traders, etc. Note particularly that having lots of ways to draw on the corp turn is good for dealing with Industrial Genomics: Growing Solutions playing Bio-Ethics Association and Genetics Pavilion.
- Maximize the benefit of "Freedom Through Equality" by letting you hold onto it until you are just about to score.
Let's talk about clicks, baby
Too bad that the click ability is so weak, right? You have to have, like, infinity cameras for it to be worth using. If only there was some way to get your hands on all of the spy cams in your deck. Oh yeah, that card exists: Replicator.
Before we get into how best to leverage the click ability, let's address the main complaint: you still have to spend 6 installing these stupid cameras, and the game is called "Android: Netrunner" not "Android: Install a Bunch Of Stupid Cameras." I would argue that it's actually a fine use of your time in Geist, even without additional support. If you install them one at a time off of replicator and only use the trash ability, it's still 1 to get a draw and a peek at R&D (significantly better than clicking to draw). It will very likely be several on top of that (1 for each Tech Trader on the board when you trash it and 1 for each Technical Writer on the board when you install it).
Now that we've addressed that complaint, let's set the complaint on fire because Bazaar exists and lets you install all 6 cameras on a single click.
Now, Replicator and Bazaar both fail the standard litmus test for being a good card: "is it good on its own, or just in a combo?" If Adjusted Chronotype giving 2 click-free draws per turn with Wyldside is good enough to play, then I am 100% certain that getting 6 draws, 6 peeks at R&D, and a ton of credits for a single click is worth slotting a couple, especially in a faction that generally has poor draw and poor R&D pressure. Additionally, Sports Hopper and Forger are generally pretty reasonable targets for replicator (even if you don't install them immediately), so it's really just the Bazaar that can be a dud. By the way, you're going to Levy AR Lab Access at least once and do it all again.
OK, onto the ability: re-ordering your stack is theoretically not awful (letting you plan the next few clicks or turns ahead, protect stuff from damage that you want to use soon, practicing your short term memory), though cards which enable it (Rolodex) or leverage it (Eureka!, Oracle May) are generally considered under-powered. Spy Camera's click ability really shines, however, when you are setting up your board and have ~4 installed. Let's assume that you've used replicator (optionally bazaar) to install 4 cameras. Click, order the top 4 cards in the manner that's most pleasing to you, draw the card(s) you want, and then install another camera (I call this "doing the replicator shuffle"). Repeat. It's like Making an Entrance, but it's in-faction, doesn't have to be done on your first click, and can be done multiple times. The cards you don't want right now go around the cycle again (maybe you'd rather have trashed them, but maybe they're just not what you need right now).
Once you've got all 6 cameras on the board (or however many are left), make judicious use of shuffle abilities (from Hostage, installing other hardware that you can replicate, etc). to effectively turn the click ability into " : Add a useful-ass card to your grip from your stack. OK, maybe it's not exactly what you want, but c'mon what the heck" (note to FFG: I am available to write card text for future cycles).
That's pretty good!
So, in conclusion: you have to have a lot of support to make Spy Camera good. But if you support your spy cameras, they will support you.