The Spin Cycle Awards

The Spin Cycle Awards

22/04/14

Dave 'Chimpster' Paterson

 

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to the Netrunners.co.uk semi-annual cycle award show extravaganza! The stars are out in force tonight as corporate and hacker celebrity alike, come together, don fancy apparel and walk down the red carpet hand in hand in the hope of winning the coveted Netrunners award!

 

After extensive deliberation, the voter has handed in his results to myself, the moderator (this is something of a 'Rotten Borough' vote for you history fans out there), and we are now happy to present to you the winners (and losers) of the Spin Cycle!

 

So without further ado, the first category is:

 

Best Agenda!

 

NAPD Contract (Double Time)

 

Even if this process wasn't just decided by me, NAPD would clearly be a run away winner in every sense of the term. Though it was only released recently, it has already found its way into a majority of tournament winning decks and shifted the entire meta towards a more taxing game style. It's a card that now even has its own unique Netrunner rule: Never run without 4 credits to spare. That is significant in and of itself.

 

NAPD Contract, we salute you! (apart from when we can't steal you, then we curse and hate you).

 

Other nominees: Profiteering (Second Thoughts), Market Research (Fear and Loathing)

 

 

Our second category is:

 

Best Asset!

Jackson Howard (Opening Moves)

 

Another category which wouldn't be even close if everyone in the Netrunner community voted in this process.

 

I was tempted to disqualify Jackson Howard on the grounds that talking about him is really, really dull but in the interest of trying to cater to newer players and those investigating the Spin Cycle at a future date, I'll sum him up thusly:

 

Jackson Howard is very, very good.

 

Other nominees: Sundew (Mala Tempora), Shock (True Colours)

 

 

 

Next up:

 

Best ICE!

Wraparound (Fear and Loathing)

 

Quite simply, Wraparound does things that ICE Wall can't. Namely, it gives parasites and AI breakers a really hard time. It only costs 2 to rez and only takes 1 influence to splash outside of NBN. It almost certainly is auto include in faction and is virtually the same out of faction.

 

Always take a Fracter ladies and gentlemen, or this card will taunt you till the end of your days.

 

Other nominees: Quandary (Double Time), Hive (Double Time), Grim (Opening Moves)

 

 

 

We move onto:

 

Best Operation!

Power Shutdown (Mala Tempora)

 

This was far more difficult to assess, ultimately, Power Shutdown edges it for me, simply because it's another powerful weapon for the corporation which is strong in, and out of faction. It also brings in a great risk vs reward mechanic (much like ABT) which can add real flavour to matches.

 

I haven't assessed the value of this card in the context of combowombo sheningans, but rather on its own strengths and merits. Picking off Datasuckers and Corroders is very, very strong.

 

Other nominees: Celebrity Gift (Opening Moves), Sweeps Week (True Colours), Punitive Counterstrike (True Colours)

 

 

Lets keep this (Astro)train moving ladies and gentlemen:

 

Best Upgrade!

 

Caprice Nisei (Double Time)

 

Well there were only 4 upgrades total in the Spin Cycle, so this won't come as any suprise to anyone. Again, it's another card which has been discussed ad infinitum by the community at large and can once again be summed up by; It's very, very good.

 

Fundamentally, she represents a powerful economic tool, a means for the corp to make ICE a serious taxation while protecting important central, or remote servers. At 4 influence, she won't be seen out of faction all the time, but when she is, it's likely that the deck has been built around her - she's pretty damn potent.

 

Other nominees: Erm.. Off the Grid (Second Thoughts) is kind of ok if you're loaded and have Caprice on HQ!

 

 

So onto the Runner side of the award ceremony (before moving onto the more coveted general awards!

 

Best Event!

 

Hostage (Opening Moves)

 

Not exactly a pleathora of good choices here, and as this ceremony progresses, it will be clear that the Runner got fairly shafted in the Spin Cycle.

 

Hostage is an event which I expect to see more of, both in and out of faction. There are some very strong connections due out in the not too distant future which will want 3x Hostage. It's also a Runner double which doesn't make Baby Jesus want to cry, and that deserves some measure of credit!

 

Other nominees: Lawyer Up (True Colours), Lucky Find (Double Time)

 

 

Once more unto the breach dear fellows:

 

Best Hardware!

 

Blackguard (Fear and Loathing)

 

This is probably a controversial one given that it didn't get a great rating from us on our set review. The truth is, I probably love the idea of this card more than the actual card itself. 11c is blumming expensive but it's another card that's begging to be built around. For me, it's stronger than Deep Red as the 'unique deck' console so I'll give it the benefit of the doubt and hope we start seeing some powerful expose decks in the not too distant future!

 

Other nominees: Silencer (Double Time), Prepaid Voicepad (Second Thoughts)

 

 

 

 

We're going to split the program category into 2, those of an ICE breaker varient and those that aren't, here comes those that aren't!

 

Best Program (Non ICE Breaker)!

 

Keyhole (True Colours)

 

This has the potential of being one of the most devastating programs in the runners arsenal. Being able to see 12 unique cards every turn (or 9 with a run on archives) is nothing to be sneezed at. Not only does it excel at stealing agendas, it can also break key combos, defend against flatline and completely negate cards like Shock and Snare.

 

Its 2mu, 4c and 3inf is a hefty price to pay but this is a program I expect to see more of as time goes on, both in, and out of faction. It's very good.

 

Other nominees: Rook (Opening Moves), Paintbrush (Double Time)

 

 

 

Onto the programs which breaketh ICE!

 

Best Program (ICE Breaker)!

 

Knight (Mala Tempora)

 

This was a close call for me, I honestly debated between this and Sharpshooter for a while, but came to the conclusion that Knight does something new, and new should be celebrated.

 

It's a great program which gives Anarch a way to overcome high str ICE as well as giving Criminal even more aggro opportunities. I'm not sure whether it will have any significant staying power in the meta, as we do seem to be moving towards multi subroutine ICE (Hive, Eli, Tsurugi) at pace. That being said, it works well in an ICE destruction deck (which Anarch excels at) and as a means to pressure both remote servers, and centrals at the same time.

 

Other nominees: Sharpshooter (True Colours), Garrote (True Colours)

 

 

Before moving onto the general awards, let's finally assess:

 

Best Resource!

 

John Masanori (Opening Moves)

 

Not a huge amount to choose from again here, with some of the Spin Cycle resources making up some of the worst cards in the cycle.

 

Masanori at the very least, offers a way to gain great value out of successful runs, and along with Desperado and Datasucker, can add significant tempo to an aggressive runners game. It can also be tutored for with Hostage which should not be understated. Finally, he enables fun Data Leak Reversal shenanigans which give him significant bonus points in my books.

 

Other nominees: Fall Guy (Double Time) (one for the future I think)

 

 

 

Now we come to the final segment of the most prestigious award ceremony, the general categories:

 

Best Art!

 

Swordsman (Adam S Doyle)

 

This was a really hard decsion, and given that beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder, likely to be one you may not agree with. In truth, the art in Netrunner is pretty fantastic accross the board, but Swordsman for me wins out in the end, stunning stuff.

 

Other nominees: Quandary (Laura Wilson), Bishop (Adam S Doyle), Lawyer Up (Matt Zeilinger), Woman in the Red Dress (Bruno Balixa)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now for our soon to be infamous 'Shoebox of Shame' award for the card that is most likely to never see the light of day your lifetime!

 

Worst Card (sponsored by the Shoebox of Shame)!

 

Activist Support (True Colours)

 

Another close thing, with the runner clearly getting the rough end of the card pool in the cycle. Activist Support wins out here because I don't feel like it has any chance of being redeemed. At least Starlight Crusade or Hard at Work don't hurt your game beyond wasting money or clicks (assuming that you have a way of getting rid of Starlight Crusade when needed). Activist Support actively hurts you, it gives you a tag that you can't remove until it may be too late, makes all of your resources vunerable (including itself) and only gives the Corp a Badpub if they're stupid and don't trash it. To reiterate what I said in my review, you spend a click and a credit to put this in play while the Corp spends a click and 2 credits to trash it, at which point the corp then has to decide if they want to spend a click and 2 credits removing the tag (assuming they haven't already been punished for having one). I'm going to rant about BadPub a little later in my conclusion, but this is the kind of card that could have made BadPub a real weapon for the Runner if the effects had happened simultaneously.

 

Other nominees: Starlight Crusade Funding (True Colours), Hard at Work (Second Thoughts), Rex Campaign (True Colours), Leviathan (Second Thoughts)

 

 

Sticking to our theme for a moment, we move onto:

 

Most Unloved Faction!

 

HB and Criminal!

 

This one is a tie for me, Criminal and HB get pretty much one useable card each (Hostage for Criminal and Blue Level Clearance for HB). Both factions were already in a very strong position after C&C so it's not hugely suprising to see them unloved in the Spin Cycle. Criminal will be getting some significant loving in the forthcoming deluxe pack so HB will have to wait for the Lunar Cycle to see anything fun for them to play with.

 

Having covered the unloved, let us cover:

 

Most Loved Faction!

NBN

 

It's tempting to split the award again and give this jointly to NBN and Anarch but in truth, I feel that NBN gained so much in Spin that awarding a joint award would be a little lopsided.

 

So let's recap what NBN got here:

Jackson Howard, Wraparound, Sweeps Week, Market Research, Shipment from SanSan, RSVP and Corporate Shuffle.

 

That's a lot of love ladies and menfolk, and why we're seeing an inordinate amount of NBN in the current meta! Just wait until they get Fast track in H&P...

 

 

 

So which datapack should you value above all others?

 

Best Datapack Award!

 

 

Double Time

 

It was tempting to give this award to Opening Moves, probably just for Jackson Howard alone, but the truth is that Double Time is a stronger pack overall. In it we are treated to cards like NAPD, Caprice, Hive and Quandary. All solid 4.5-5 star cards which I expect to see a great deal of over the coming year.

 

If you only have money for one pack in the Spin Cycle, get Double Time. If you have money for two, definitely get Opening Moves.

 

 

So we finally move onto the big one, the award that every card aspires to:

 

Best Card Award!

 

Jackson Howard (Opening Moves)!

 

Was there ever going to be any doubt on this one?

 

Jackson Howard solves a great many problems and provides the Corp with something every Netrunner deck needs, reliability. Not only that, but he enables you to accelerate towards a win condition if you're setup and ready to score/flatline. On top of all that, he's 3 to trash, 0 to rez and can recycle your threats over to use again for giggles. At only 1inf, he's around to stay and a card that is hugely important to have and to use.

 

Congratulations Jackson, may you and your cyber turtle ever live in peace and harmony!

 

Other nominees: NAPD Contract (Double Time), Power Shutdown (Mala Tempora), Wraparound (Fear and Loathing)

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

The Spin Cycle was very much hit and miss for me. It was clear that its initial objectives were to expand the BadPub theme while introducing Double events and Caissa programs into the mix. Equally, it's clear that the overall aim was to balance the Corp by giving them some incredibly strong cards to use (post C&C runner dominance is certainly at an end). With these objectives in mind, I think there are some missed opportunities.

 

First, Double runner events are pretty terrible, Lucky Find and Hostage are very playable, but beyond that, we've been treated to 4c double events that are marginal at best, unplayable at worst. Ultimately, taking up half your turn on one action means that the one action needs to be pretty bloody good, sadly this just doesn't seem to be the case. FFG are insistent that we'll see a double event deck dominate a tournament in the not too distant future but in truth, I think that day is a long way off. Who knows though, maybe one day Starlight Crusade Funding will become the card which everyone screams needs to be banned. There are going to have to be some very strong doubles released in coming cycles for that to ever happen though.

 

Second, Bad Publicity seems to be at largely the same stage it was before the Spin Cycle. This is probably the most fustrating part for me, BadPub could really have taken centre stage in this cycle if the Runner had been given tools to actually apply it to the corp reliably. If you haven't read my 'Worst Card Award' section, do that first, it saves me having to repeat that rant! NAPD Contract largely put the nail in the coffin for BadPub. Yes, you may run a Grim or two in your deck still, but fundamentally, BadPub just isn't really worth it anymore. You may not mind pushing NAPD up to 5 advancements to score, but you sure as hell don't want it at 6. Equally, the only ways of punishing BadPub is Blackmail (and obviously the economic saving you make by using it), which is only useful early doors. Currently the only reliable method of putting BadPub on a corp is with Frame Job, and sacrificing an agenda for it is a steep cost indeed (and to add insult to injury, it's a double as well). As a theme, it just hasn't been explored in any great detail, when there was the potential to introduce a whole new archetype to the game, one that is simply dripping with flavour.

 

Thirdly, Caissa programs were a little hit and miss. While we were treated to strong programs like Knight and Rook, the theme was found a little lacking with only Pawn and Bishop to compliment them. Deep Red was ok as a console, but I'm still not convinced that a Caissa deck works that well. It seems like the best Caissa decks are to be found largely in Shaper (street chess or pawn recursion in Exile), yet another Anarch tool that is better splashed out of faction, which is a crying shame. Hopefully, Anarch will continue to get the love they need (and an in faction tutor!) in the next cycle, leading up to their deluxe box in 7 or so months.

 

Finally, there can be little doubt that FFG are aware of imbalances in the meta, they expertly stomped on Noiseshop and Katman while not hurting it badly enough for it to never be played again. Rather strategies that had no real counter, now do. This is why moving foward I'm encouraged that FFG will continue to be subtle and effective in balancing certain kinds of dominant archetypes (Sweeps Week was one of the best soft counters I've seen). I have no doubt that in the future cycle we will begin to see some effective counters to fast advance, something which will slow the game back down (something we're already starting to see with NAPD and Caprice). It's already been announced that we're likely to see 1 new ID each pack next cycle as well, which I think will really help deck diversity as the cycle progresses. Here's hoping!

 

Let us raise our glasses to the Spin Cycle ladies and gentlemen! May her Datapacks always remain in stock! Huzzah!

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