By Frank Brooks– January 28, 2013
For those of your who weren’t confused by the fact that there were three copies of him in your datapack or distracted by his resemblance to the previous FFG game designer Kevin Wilson may have said to yourselves “Why the **** would I ever use him? He doesn’t have Noise’s ability” and stowed him away with your Data Dealers and your Net Shields.
I’m here as a herald of alternative deck builds! Don’t stick with the only-one-way-to-play crowd. This isn’t Legacy level Magic here, it’s just the beginning of Android: Netrunner! Feel free to explore the game and try new builds, try using cards you wouldn’t have thought of using together. You don’t have to be a Johnny to try this either. (I know I just gave you two Magic: the Gathering links, but this game is new and there is nothing quite like it on the FFG side of things so I’ve been using the most experienced, most successful collectable card game for some references) You don’t have to go out on a limb and try using cards like Tinkering OoF (out of faction), you can just try new things like throwing a Desperado in an Anarch deck (which I must say works extremely well). Live a little. Don’t just stay with the same deck strategy you’ve been using with since the Core set released. Sure you’ve seen new cards which make it work better, but I dare you to try something different. Try something you wouldn’t have bothered doing with just the core set and now suddenly have the option for.
Ok…*phew* got that off my chest…Alright, where was I? Oh right, Whizzard!
Ok, now let’s get into it:
What Noise Does:
As those that have already experienced the anarchy of the original Anarch, Noise is threatening! No central server should be left unprotected. I don’t have any Agendas in my hand I can leave HQ unprotected for a while right? WRONG! Noise has access to Imp. He will run in a’combo-breaking, and a’plan-disrupting. Well at least Archives is safe, I know there aren’t any agendas in there. That may be true–for now! Just wait until next turn when he installs any virus and trashes the top card of R&D right into there. If that is an agenda he can waltz right in (in step to some strange 3/4 trance music I’m sure) and take it right from under your noise, err nose. Ok, well I know there are Agendas in there somewhere but I can leave R&D open for a while right? Perhaps, but as soon as he drops a Medium and starts swooping through there, you’ll probably wish you hadn’t. Even if he doesn’t hit anything and gets 5 counters on there, look out if he has the aforementioned Imp or a Demolition Run! You may have been safe since ICE and Events were blocking your agendas, but POW, those are gone. All Agendas all the time.
Anarch are currently the only faction with the virus subtype (outside of the obvious Crypsis) so they all help Noise trash more and more potential Agendas into Archives. Some argue that his power is OP (overpowered), which I may even agree with. As long as you haven’t blocked R&D, it is as though he gets a “free R&D run” every time he installs a Virus. Some people have capitalized on this and built decks around specifically installing as many viruses as possible (getting a little return on investment with good old Aesop’s), installing just Crypsis or perhaps Wrym and potentially making a single massive Archives run to win the game.
What Whizzard Does:
Ok, take what Noise does, but then take out the Archives part…
For many people this is where their analysis stops. With no threat to Archives and potential single run to win, why are you even playing Anarch? Just play another faction. Wow, how single-minded of you straw man. You have to think beyond that. Why not use that to your advantage instead? How is can the lack of an ability be used to your advantage? Keep reading, silly.
As soon as your opponent sees Whizzard instead of Noise they may even breath a sigh of relief (“I thought it was going to be another one of those matches”). There is probably not going to be a first turn agenda for the runner and the corp will probably not protect Archives for a while. What Whizzard does instead, is gives you an economic advantage. What are you talking about Frank, he has access to the same cards as Noise and doesn’t have an ability like Mac, where is this money coming from? In due time.
What Whizzard does is makes every successful RS (remote server) or R&D run (Medium powered or otherwise) that much more fruitful. If you hit an asset or upgrade you have three recurring creds to help out. Anarch tends to run pretty poor without some help. Cards like Magnum Opus and Modded along with Mac’s native ability keep Shaper doing ok and things like Bank Job, Easy Mark, Deperado and Gabe’s ability help keep Criminal always running in the black. Since Anarch has few answers outside of the new Liberated Accounts which, much like Sure Gamble, requires a lot of initial investment, and it is hard to not run yourself poor to get “just one more run” in. Saving money (to use a Sure Gamble or Liberated Accounts) feels like you are holding back from reaching your potential. Like the Dark Side, it may be quicker yes, but leads to problems down the road (like affording big cards or, you know, physical corruption on the other hand).
Whizzard helps mitigate this disadvantage by giving you some money for what you need it for. What do you mean? Icebreakers aren’t free, man. How the heck am I supposed to use “trashing creds” to make runs? Fortunately for you, Anarch breakers are super cheap to operate. The bane of Enigma, Yog.0 is free (yup, 0 creds to break subroutines); the front-loaded Morning Star (yeah he costs 8 to install) is only a single cred to break all barrier subroutines; and the “most expensive” Mimic is still only 1 per subroutine. You don’t need much (probably less than 5 creds) to run (especially if you have the sexy art Cyberfeeder).
Sure, now that I am paying nothing for runs (which I could still be doing with Noise mind you), where is this economic advantage coming from? Well, if you finish the run with any money, your recurring creds will help you trash anything you come across that is trashable. Some of the nastiest upgrades you’ll come across aren’t free to trash: SanSan, ChiLo, Ash XYZetc.etc.etc., all are 3 or more. If you just discovered them, you don’t really want to come back just to trash these do you? No you don’t, you want to get rid of them now. If your opponent already paid to rez them, even better!
Ok, well what if my opponent isn’t using those expensive Regions or upgrades? How does this help me? Well, you know those three annoying cash generating assets: PAD campaign, Adonis campaign and MMC (Melange Mining Corp)? They aren’t free to trash either. You could easily have the pocket change it would take to rile up those miners to stop working, but the two campaigns have stronger roots. Fortunately, with the help of Whizzard, both are now in your (albeit super poor) spending range. But I could still be using Imp with Noise? Yeah you could, but why not save those Imp counters for something you couldn’t normally trash like that Scorched Earth or that Psychographics. (why no links? Check out my first blog post: here) With no “free” money sources, the corp isn’t gaining that economic advantage by just waiting around behind their ICE walls. You are making them work for it the old fashion way (like you, one click at a time).
Ok, that makes dealing with RS easier I’ll give you that, but how could it help you against central servers? What’s more annoying than getting free access to HQ early in the game, but drawing that same card even though it’s only between 50% and 20% of the cards in their hand? Well don’t worry, you can now remove that PAD with a mere credit! Your likelihood of drawing that same card is reduced to 0% (not including duplicates). Hopefully now you’ll be able to grab one of those 3 agendas you are sure they are trying to act cool about holding. Ok, well what about R&D? Well, see what you just did with HQ? Just do that in R&D. Even if you don’t have Medium, you may be able to see three different cards from the top of their deck because you were able to trash more. Now imagine you do have Medium (or worse 2!). If you start your turn with a couple counters (on each!!!) then you can riffle through the corp’s R&D like it’s a garage sale and everything’s a dollar!
Ok, that’s nice and all, but I still don’t think losing that threat on Archives was worth some minor benefit you can only use if they have things to trash. Well you still have Datasuckers don’t you? If you also have Desperado up, those unblocked runs on archives are charging up your Datasuckers and getting you creds all in one fluid motion. They probably don’t want you to do that. Even if you don’t have either, a surprise Sneakdoor will probably change his or her mind about leaving Archives open. Would Noise be able to access Archives for a Sneakdoor? Not a chance.
So, now what?
Well, if you followed me this far, you may see that the decision isn’t as clear cut as you once thought. I may not have changed your mind, but at least you’ve thought about Whizzard just a little bit more, or if you haven’t given up on him immediately are starting to come around to making the plunge and start trying him out. Now there may even some people who already knew everything I said and kept reading just because they can’t get enough of Netrunner and this is another article for them to devour and for them, congratulations, you are awesome!
Regardless of your stance on using Whizzard vs Noise, I hope this post at least made you reconsider some decisions which you already wrote off as “decided.” Is there a time where I would want to use Data Dealer? (some Noise players may already say “Yes, that’s how I can afford my Archives run) Is Morning Star worth it? (the answer is yes by the way, in an Anarch deck that can support it) Do I need to import Diesel into every runner deck? Is PAD dead (or alive, for people who assume it’s already dead)? Why would I ever include Encyption Protocols? (I will actually talk about this soon)
Don’t bash theoretically performance of a card or combo until you’ve tried it. What sounds good/bad on paper may actually be the opposite in real life. If you are convinced that there is never a situation where you’d want a card, think again. The answer may surprise you (or then again it may not). Keep running!
Also, make sure to check out my first blog: Best(?) 3 cards? and make sure to check back: I will be starting a new recurring post entitled “Theory Thursdays” where I talk about theory and design as well as theortical design space and future card ideas.