Thursday, 14 January 2016

The Woes of Weyland - Part II: Rush Revisited

Forcing the Gear-Check

I am cognizant that Enigma is neutral; Weyland's code gates leave much to be desired.

Having established thus far that Weyland and glacier strategies do not gel well, how about the other end of the spectrum? That is to say, aggressively scoring agendas behind one or two ice, before the Runner has the necessary breaker solution. Yes, rush is the strategy that Weyland's more merit-worthy ice are geared toward.

So what are the dark green ice that best exemplify this strategy? As touched on earlier in the series, Weyland has a few cheap barriers - namely Ice Wall, Meru Mati and Spiderweb - that effectively force out a fracter (or AI breaker - more on this shortly). Outside of these, Weyland also has the lovely, taxing Caduceus, which, while not explicitly a rush-enabler, is an excellent choice of ice against 0-link Runners and still decent against those with 1 link. Also, although positional by nature and honestly not all that flash, Wendigo is potentially a double gear-check, forcing the Runner to fetch both a decoder and fracter (again, or AI breaker) before they are able to successfully assail the server. Finally, a discussion of Weyland's useful ice wouldn't be complete without the beastly Archer - which, for the longest time, necessitated running Hostile Takeover, an issue which will be discussed in the agenda segment. As a 6-strength sentry with four subroutines, two of which trash programs, Archer is devastating to faceplant into without an answer. However, at this stage of the game's life cycle, answers to Archer are in no short supply SharpshooterD4v1d, Faerie, Femme Fatale, Emergency Shutdown, etc. While the card is not quite the monster it was back in core set days, it remains a threat to be respected. The common thread of most of Weyland's valued ice is that they are fairly good at establishing early scoring opportunities, thus enabling the 'rush' archetype, that the faction is mostly known for. There are some major hiccups, however...

The bony bane of rush.

Now, for the bad news hinted at before: AI breakers. More specifically - Faust. Who'da thunk a single Runner card could have been so detrimental to the Weyland faction as a whole? Well, the reasons are many and varied. The nastiest thing about AI breakers for rush decks is that they circumvent gear-checking ice. A triply-iced server which may have previously required breakers of all three types to penetrate - protected by Ice Wall, Wendigo and Chimera (as a sentry), for instance - merely requires four trashed cards with Faust. On top of its standard AI anti-gear-checking ability, Faust is vastly superior to the other AI breakers, which all possess significant downsides - Crypsis is expensive and click-intensive to use; Darwin requires considerable setup, is expensive and is countered massively by Cyberdex Virus Suite; Overmind is limited use; Eater requires the cutlery suite in order to actually access cards. While Faust is theoretically limited in use (a Runner only has so many cards in their deck, after all), there are only so many accesses required to win a game - a 45 card deck is rarely not enough Faust fodder to do so. This is particularly true against rush decks, which don't have the luxury of scoring out of hand, and are thus forced to score out in servers - camping a server with Faust and a full hand of cards makes scoring windows very hard to come by. And for Anarchs fueled by the Adjusted Wyldside combo (a.k.a. Pancake Party, Wyldcakes, the nicknames are numerous), maintaining a hand of five or more cards at the start of the turn is highly achievable. Faust's dominance is further bolstered when used in conjunction with D4v1d, which effectively deals with all the giant ice that Faust has difficulty overcoming, such as Tollbooth, Susanoo-no-Mikoto, and Archer (much to Weyland's dismay). But Faust is not the only threat to Weyland's rush game - Shapers have their own bag of tricks to neuter rush...

The one-two punch of 's*** all over rush decks'.

Self-Modifying Code and Clone Chip are thorns in the side of any budding rush deck. Individually, either of the two is a pain; together, they are truly soul-crushing. Self-Modifying Code lets the Runner find the exact program required for the situation at hand from their stack, while Clone Chip lets them do so from their heap. And here's the real kicker - all of this at instant speed. As such, Self-Modifying Code lets the Runner find the exact breaker required to break a specific piece of ice, mid-run - no guesswork required. Furthermore, Clone Chip can be used to recur Self-Modifying Code from the heap - as such, an SMC and a Clone Chip lets the Runner get through any double iced server, assuming they have the correct icebreaker in their deck and sufficient credits. On top of the massive utility provided by being able to find programs mid-run, the combination of these cards allows the Runner to assemble a breaker rig extremely rapidly. A Runner with a full rig within the first few turns of the game makes a rush Corp very, very sad.

Not content simply bullying rush tactics via rapid rig development at instant speed, SMC and Clone Chip also counter the backup/followup plan employed by rush decks, particularly of the Weyland variety - rig destruction. Rush decks typically pack destroyers in an attempt to reset the Runner's board state after they do eventually acquire a breaker suite. However, Clone Chip once again throws a wrench in that plan, each chip allowing the Runner to rescue a trashed program. That is assuming you manage to trash any programs in the first place - with SMC, even a surprise Archer can be dealt with via Sharpshooter for a paltry sum. Power Shutdown is a reasonable tech card to deal with Clone Chips and SMCs, until the Shaper plays their Levy AR Lab Access and has access to three new Clone Chips to ruin your day with. Between the full complement of SMCs and Clone Chips the majority of Shaper decks pack (the soon-to-be-instated Most Wanted List, which makes Clone Chip less palatable, may affect its ubiquity), it's no wonder that the rush archetype is struggling for viability.


Having identified the key antagonists to rush, we are now equipped to propose tools to fight back. Let's deal with the AI problem first. Weyland, the gear-check/rush faction, is the only Corp faction to not have an anti-AI ice - Jinteki has Swordsman, NBN has Wraparound, Haas-Bioroid has Turing. How about we rectify that:

Also just a decent code gate. Really breaking new ground here for the W.

In atypical fashion for Weyland, Gorgon is an anti-icebreaker tool that does not actually involve the trashing of a program (Jinteki has already occupied said territory, after all). Instead, Gorgon has an effect more similar to Excalibur, in that it prevents the Runner from doing something for the rest of the turn - in this case, using AI breakers. While this only prevents AI usage for a single turn (and thus, the Runner will still be able to Faust through servers the following turn), the 'remainder of the turn' effect should be enough to secure the scoring window for the Corp, assuming the Runner was planning on getting into the agenda remote via an AI. This applies even if the Runner encounters Gorgon without an AI breaker installed. What's more, while not a direct 'end the run', the second subroutine can end the run if the Corp wins the trace (which they will be inclined to pay into heavily, if there's an agenda sitting in the server). Even if the trace fails, an unbroken Gorgon ensures that the Runner cannot simply break an ETR ice behind it without the required non-AI breaker. At the minimum, Gorgon necessitates that the Runner acquire a code gate breaker alongside their AI before they start rampaging on servers with impunity. 

As effective as it is in subverting AI dominance, it sure is a shame that Gorgon doesn't do much to solve the SMC/Clone Chip issue. But I think I have an idea for a card design that just might:

F*** your Shaper BS.

Sentinel explores a design space for ice, especially of the Weyland variety, that some players feel has been lacking - 'on rez' and/or non-subroutine effects that cannot be interacted with/countered by the Runner. Specifically, Sentinel aggressively targets Shaper's mid-run program-tutoring tools to a degree previously unseen. As these cards operate during a paid ability window, Sentinel necessarily had to have an 'on rez' clause that prohibits them from acting until the Runner passes the ice. While very much intended as anti-Clone/SMC tech, the 'on rez' clause of this tentacled destroyer also prevents Street Peddler and Personal Workshop from saving the Runner's rig. Basically, Sentinel forces the Runner to use their tutor effects prior to its rez, or lose the opportunity.

Furthermore, on top of its situational program/hardware trashing subroutine, Sentinel also has a soft 'end the run' subroutine - coveted for sentries, particularly those 4 strength or higher. While some Runners might have empty Ladys (Ladies?) or Imps that they are happy to dispose of, Sentinel's second subroutine may well simply stop a Runner cold, if they are either unwilling or unable to trash a program. 

As should hopefully be obvious, Sentinel is designed to be a 'power card' and is thus very aggressively costed - a very reasonable 5 to rez for a 4 strength sentry with 'program/hardware trash' and tentative 'end the run' subroutines. That being said, its power is kept in check by its narrowness (limited pool of targets able to be trashed) and porosity (not a 'hard' stop). Equipped with ice like Gorgon to counter AIs and Sentinel to hamper mid-run installs, Weyland's rush archetype might just be able to weather the storm of Anarch's furious server assaults and thwart Shaper's searching shenanigans.


Well, that's about it for Weyland's ice. With buffed and accelerated advanceable ice to enable glacier, and more robust, meta-busting ice to empower rush, Weyland's ice dilemma would be largely alleviated. But what exactly do we use our ice for? Why, to protect our agendas!* Part III will centre on the non-ice tools (or lack thereof) Weyland employs to score its agendas. Till next time!

*[I'm pretty damn good with these witty, transitional sentences. I just felt the need to draw attention to this fact.]


  1. I like the ICE ideas, but isn't click-loss exclusively an HB effect? Maybe force the runner to lose credits like Negotiator?

    1. Thanks for reading!

      With respect to click-loss being 'exclusively' HB - Enigma (Neutral) and Troll (NBN) say otherwise. Click loss is primarily HB's thing, but occasionally other factions encroach on faction specialties. For instance, net damage is unquestionably Jinteki's territory, but both NEXT Gold (HB) and Woodcutter (Weyland) also deal net damage.

      For what it's worth, I considered credit loss, but click loss feels more thematic, given the nature of a gorgon.

    2. I'd also add that credit loss is more uniquely NBN than click loss is HB.