By Frank Brooks– January 31, 2013
Here we are! Welcome to my first Theory Thursday! Why Thursday? Well, it just sort of worked out that way. Theory Thursday had a nice sound to it and I wanted to regularly start discussions about theory related topics on A:NR so, tada! I’m sure these first few will only be on the scale somewhere between “ok” to “I guess I didn’t mind reading that” since I haven’t been blogging very long and I am no professional, but I’m here to change that! The more time I spend thinking, (and testing) the better I’ll understand theory and hopefully so will you. If you are coming from the future, BOO! Yeah gotcha, I’m sure that exclamative was hidden so well in the paragraph that when you finally got to that weird spacing in the paragraph you were totally surprised. (Aren’t you always coming from the future? I’m the only one who can read this in the present since once it’s out it was in the past? Right? uh…) I’m so cool, yeah…
Anyway THEORY TIME!
What the Key Master Tells Us
So far, we have seen Link do 2 things. The first one is obvious to anybody who understands the game, you know, beating traces, and the other one is with the third card I picked in my first blog post (link in case you didn’t read it). ZU.13 Keymaster.
The appropriately thematic subtype: Cloud is keying us on the the first part of the ability (I crack myself up). Thematically this breaker is stored in cloud storage so therefore it doesn’t take up any of the precious physical memory that a runner has on their person/rig. As they have connections to multiple bouncers they are able to store this program on a virtual host.
Without much creative effort one can easily imagine Cloud breakers for a fracter and killer. But the question still remains, how similarly will they be? In the first “suite” of breakers for Shaper, they all shared the theme of “+1 strength until end of run”, yet were not merely copies with the subtype change to reflect the different ICE it was able to break. Battering Ram (barrier) was more MU, broke 2 subroutines for 2 creds, but started out at a higher strength, Gordian Blade (code gate) was the model of efficiency to base of others off of and Pipeline (sentry) was like the last guy for kickball, he is another player but there might have been a reason nobody picked him, started out lowest strength and cost 2 creds per strength to pump up.
What are the other variables to play with? Well besides strength, there is Influence, Install cost, Memory cost, cost to boost, cost to break and with the Cloud type, amount of Link needed. Of course the others could be the same (need 2 link to be 0MU), but this theme can go beyond that. So it could cost more to take up no memory. This seems like an easy enough variable to be altered. 3 or 4 link needed seems doable.
Another way, could be a scaling MU. For example the barrier breaker could cost 2 MU to start, becomes 1MU with some link and 0MU with lots of link. Alternatively, from the way collectable card games tend to go, if you want to have a theme, there will be plenty of ways to support it so a deck that supports Cloud breakers could easily get 7 link (or more depending on how soon more link cards come out) before the end of the game. Therefore, from a balancing perspective looking forward, the fractor could even start out costing more, 3MU, but eventually can take up no space with significant link strength. One problem with this idea is what kind of background/theme would support such as strange mechanic? The fact that multiple link-providing sources would be required to fully operate such a program would probably be implemented. For example protein folding requires so much effort that you need many computers operating at the same time in order to even attempt at getting the correct configuration. Although that thematically fits a decoder (since you are brute forcing the correct answer by simulating every possible answer), ZU.13 of course already fills that role. If they wanted to use cloud computing to be a barrier breaker I’m sure they could figure out something
What about Creeper?
Is this our fabled killer Cloud? Perhaps? It definitely fills our criteria from what we can see of the card.
It definitely looks like it has the 2 [link] to cost 0MU written on it (although phrased differently). Interesting to see that it starts out higher than ZU.13 at strength 2. Like Pipeline, not super great fantastic. Yes this time it doesn’t cost 2 per pump, but it is 2 to break. This can still get expensive fast. Archer is one of the hardest sentries to break. For Pipeline it costs 14, for Creeper it still costs 12. Pipeline stays boosted throughout the run of course, but Creeper needs to get big again if you hit another sentry.
This still leaves the fractor. Snowball showed us that Shaper can have a 1 MU breaker, but at what cost could it also gain the ability to cost 0MU? Perhaps install 6, 1 to pump, 1 to break? Only time will tell (or a preview, duh).
Is that all Cloud does?
In the Genesis cycle? Yes. I’m certain the most we will see of the Cloud subtype initially will be a single breaker suite mixing variations of the aforementioned variables.
In a future cycle, there is still enough design space that they could revisit Cloud to function as 0MU breakers with a different twist. If this suite ends up all being “costs 0MU with X link” there is still room to explore. Like I played with before, there could be a more “front-loaded” approach where the breakers cost more MU (and different install cost) to start, but have more strength so when you can eventually get up enough link and all your breakers running, then the suite is stronger. It took you longer to be able to support it, but you are rewarded with higher strength late game. The current suite would be useable sooner, but would suffer from lower strength. Both suites would be viable and neither would make the alternative useless (as long as they are balanced with the other suites in mind of course). You could even use some of the “original cloud breakers” and some of the “new cloud breakers” in concert. Use the “old” killer, and decoder and the “new” fractor (which costs 4MU but starts at 4 strength and costs 1 less MU for every 3 link, or whatever).
Do we get anything else from Zu.13?
It shows us they are willing to use two otherwise unrelated mechanics to interact with each other. As I mentioned briefly in my first post, it is quite possible that they can use link for other things. The example I used was to modify the breaker strength. I.e. Strength is X “X is equal to your [link] ±Y”. It could either not be able to be pumped up or cost “3 [credits]: Strength +1″ or some such. Everything can be modified to balance of course. This is just another way for link to interact with breakers.
Of course like Psychographics, link can be used for effects like that. An Event‘s cost can be reduced by the amount of Link you have or the effect can only be used up to a number of times equal to your link. It doesn’t take much to imagine a card which comes into play with a number of power counters equal to your link.
Another idea which fits with the theme of Link being bouncers, is a resource or hardware that allows you to trash a card that is the Link subtype in order to prevent a trace from succeeding . The idea is that that bounce had been “compromised” so in order to prevent the trace from getting to your location, you disconnect that “link-provider” to terminate the trace dead in it’s tracks. It would be phrased something like “During a trace attempt, you may trash a link to treat that trace as unsuccessful.”
Although most of these ideas feel to me like they would be in Shaper (since they have the most access to Link and Shaper seems to fit the “hacker archetype” the most, although all runners are in effect hackers) cards that use Link could fit into other factions as well. It seems like an Anarch type of card to just sever the ties with a Link-provider rather than have to deal with the consequences of a trace succeeding (perhaps redirecting the trace to a porn site or something, just “for the lolz”; the flavor text would read something like “They thought cash4trix was just his username. They were sorely mistaken.”).
I don’t want to spoil all of my clever link related creativity in my first Theory Thursday, so I’ll leave you with those thoughts for now. Link can do more than just defeat Ganondorf, I mean defeat traces, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. As long as I get positive posts of my potential ponderings, I will continue to throw out theoretical themed thoughts on Thursdays to the mesmerized masses (ok, a bit of a stretch but…whatever).
My next Theory Thursday, (which I’m almost already finished) is quite long. So long I almost split it into two. But in order to save space (and try to reel you in for next week) I’ve included a conclusion from it. I will be talking about what is going to be in the new Cyber Exodus datapack, talk about the cards we know about and a little bit of what I suspect will be the remaining cards. Enjoy below a conclusion:
“So, therefore, I believe that card #59 will be a Weyland Region upgrade that interacts with advanceable ice in the server. Perhaps ‘Whenever a piece ice that can be advanced is rezzed in this server, you may place an advancement counter on it’ or ‘If a piece of ice is advanced for the first time in this server, you may place an additional advancement counter on it’. Something like that. Otherwise there is only the one card (Amazon Industrial Zone) which allows you to start using Woodcutter before the runner runs into it.”
Doesn’t that sound interesting? Follow me or tune in next week to read more.
Until next time: Keep running!