A few weeks back, we had our First Hack (Netrunner tournament) at the Covenant Store, Tulsa. I was rocking my Shaper and Weyland decks. For whatever reason, I had a lot more experience with my corporation going into the event than I had with my runner. The first month or two of playing a game you are new to, especially when the game itself is new, is amazingly educating.

Often times there are lots of cards you aren’t super impressed by, yet by the end of it all it turns out those cards weren’t so bad after all. There are also some cards that catch your eye and turn out to be better in theory than in reality. While I’m not here to provide a full tournament report, I am here to discuss some of the Shaper cards (and Neutral’s) I initially disregarded or highly regarded and have now come to realize just how awesome or awesomely bad they are.

Akamatsu Mem Chip

Initial Impression: Meh

Sure, +1 memory is pretty great. However, surely once the Shaper console hits the board this card is useless… right?

Wrong!

There are a few reasons why this card, in reality, is fantastic.

1. With Kate, this card only costs 1 click (no credits) to put in play
2. Shaper has some very powerful programs that are not ice breakers, so having the additional memory for these programs is really nice. The prime examples are Magnum Opus (2 memory!) and Net Shield (1 memory).
3. Aesop’s Pawn Shop. When this card hits the table, trash-able cards that cost nothing are super valuable.

After several games, I find myself happy to see this card more often than not, allowing me to create some pretty mean engines to destroy the corporation with.

Current Impression: Fits very well into the overall shaper strategy.

Tinkering

Initial Impression: Amazing

The first time I used Tinkering, I was immediately sold. How nice is it to make a piece of ice whatever kind you can break for a turn to really put some pressure on the corporation. Due to this card, I actually built my shaper deck for the tournament a bit less balanced and leaning towards a rush set-up hoping to run heavier on ice breakers for cheap ice.

After playing in the tournament and quite a few gamers thereafter, I realized that even with this card balancing the type of breakers is important. Realizing what types of ice a player can have out early is definitely worth knowing, but to have an imbalanced deck because of Tinkering isn’t justifiable at this point in the game.

The problem with Tinkering is that it only lasts for one round. At the end of the day you get 2 or 3 turns where one piece of ice that was otherwise un-passable is suddenly passable.

Current Impression: Good… not great.

Infiltration

Initial Impression: OMG… must use.

Upon the first perusal through the core set, Infiltration seemed like one of those cards you needed to include in your deck. A card that can translate to money or reveal new information has to be great, right?

The problem comes in when you realize the macro level shaper strategy. Because Maker’s Eye is such a powerful card, you often score agenda’s by running on the opponent’s R&D. I usually get to see most of what they have coming through the R&D pipeline, so I’m not nearly as concerned with face down, installed cards as I am what’s in their deck.

More often than not, when I would draw this card I would end up using it for the two credits. That is an issue. You have to use one click to draw and one click to play a card. So Infiltration essentially costs two clicks and gains you two credits. But can’t you spend two clicks to just gain two credits? Why yes… yes you can.

So, unless you are using Infiltration to reveal cards, it’s really rather pointless. If I need money, I would much rather have a card that nets me way more credits than breaking even (Sure Gamble, Armitage Codebusting, etc.). If a Shaper is doing their job right, they should have a pretty solid idea on what most cards on the table are. Ultimately, this card became very meh to me.

Current Impression: Very Poor

Final Thoughts

Every game I still seem to be learning an enormous amount of new lessons when it comes to the Netrunner LCG and every game I still catch myself smiling ear to ear at some point. I have no doubts that in a month I’ll have different opinions even about the cards about, but for now you won’t find a single Infiltration (or Crypsis) in my deck!

Zach