Sunday, 31 July 2016

Rumor mill is bonkers!!!111one

Rumor Mill is bonkers!!!1



Since Order and Chaos dropped, we had our first hints of Princess Space Kitten in the flavour-text of Memstrips. This was continued further with Trope. The silly name alone sparkled a lot of delight. When blood money was first spoiled, all we could see was the art of Rumor Mill, depicting Princess Space Kitten's digital avatar - literally a kitten in an astronaut suit. People were excited enough about the card without even knowing what it did, but now that it has been spoiled, we have the rare combination of the best art in the data pack also being the strongest card.


Rumor Mill is a 1 credit 2 influence anarch current that blanks any unique asset/upgrade. There is also a clause about non-regions, however there are currently no unique regions so this is only for future-proofing as of now.
Our first glimpse at PSK

Political Operative

Probably the best blue card in a long time.
The fair comparison to make here is Political Operative. When Political Operative first came out, it was claimed that it was going to be a game-changer. Glacier cards typically relied on Ash and Caprice, and this could kill them in the middle of the run to prevent their effects from firing. People weren't wrong either. Political Operative is a very strong card worth including in many decks. At one influence, it is usually worth including in any Shaper deck, as well as the free include in Criminal, but Anarch usually had trouble affording it. Even so, glacier was less represented in the meta, with Anarch getting some free-splash from this (and already having a strong glacier match-up without it).

The point I'm trying to make here, is that Political Operative is a very good card. It is super-strong and has defined the meta ever since its release. Rumor Mill is basically a straight upgrade to Political Operative. Okay, that is not 100% true. Again, I am not saying that Political Operative is a bad card or weak because of this, but rather, just trying to demonstrate how Rumor Mill is absolutely bonkers incredible. 

Political Operative can target more cards than Rumor Mill, however it has several major weaknesses. One of these is that it is a one-of. If a server is protected by both Caprice and Ash, you can only stop one of them unless you have multiple Political Operatives installed. The second is that it requires a run on HQ, so can be completely shut out by cards such as Crisium Grid, and is hard to hold as a surprise "gotcha" in hand for a power turn. A third weakness of Political Operative is to do with paid ability timing. If the corp rezzes Jackson Howard in response to a run on archives, he can immediately use it before you can use Political Operative. Rumor Mill has none of these problems. You can hold Rumor Mill in hand and wait until they install an agenda in the remote. You can blank all of Caprice and Ash and Sandburg and Jackson Howard and they can't even use Interns to undo it. You can blank Jackson Howard on an archives run, or Marcus Batty when they want to snipe your rig.


When is rumor mill worse?


1. When the corp can quickly FA agendas or play their own currents. 


It is probably easier for a corp to turn off a current than it is for them to tag the runner and trash a resource. However, it is worth noting that event recursion is significantly easier than with resources (Same Old Thing). This depends entirely on the corp-meta. It does seem likely that if Rumor Mill gets a lot of play, then currents will be more popular in corp decks. 


2. When you want to play another current.


This is a legitimate downside, however there aren't many currents that are so strong that you would play them instead of Rumor Mill.


3. When you can't afford the influence.


Rumor Mill is 2 influence instead of 1. In criminal you would almost definitely still use Political Operative, and Shaper may still want it too depending on the circumstances. It is definitely clear that Anarch would always use Rumor Mill. If they costed them same, influence-wise, then Shaper would too.


4. When you get benefits from trash symbols.


Geist or decks that run Tech trader get some additional benefit from Political Operative, although it is hard to quantify whether this is worth the other trade-offs.


5. When you need to blank non-unique cards.



This is an important point, but it requires you to look at some of the meta-defining assets/upgrades of the game.

High impact cards that both target: Caprice Nisei, Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Jackson Howard (only pre-ressed), Museum of History, Sandburg, Elizabeth Mills.

High impact cards that Political Operative can target but Rumor Mill does not: Crisium grid (so long as it doesn't stop you from getting the Political Operative installed), SanSan City Grid (but only after the score), Adonis Campaign, Eve Campaign, Mumbad City Hall, Ronin. Full Immersion RecStudio.

High impact cards that Rumor Mill blanks but Political Operative can't (due to timing windows): Elizabeth Mills (only BP), Marcus Batty. Jackson Howard (when not pre-ressed)

This is by no means a complete list, just a list of what I think are strong cards that Political Operative and Rumor Mill can shut down. I think its worth noting that the majority of the cases for Political Operative are not particularly high impact targets. If the corp resses Adonis Campaign, you are consuming your Political Operative to stop the corp from gaining 3 credits as opposed to making the run and doing it manually. SanSan City Grid is usually too late because they res when they score. Crisium Grid is a good target but unfortunately also counters Political Operative too. Lets be completely honest here, when you put Political Operative in your deck, you are thinking of the cards in the first line "High Impact cards that both target". It is clear that while Political Operative has some minor added versatility in what it can target, Rumor Mill makes up for that by being a much more powerful target to the cards you actually care about.


The future


In the future, if Rumor Mill becomes super oppressive, we may see corporations going to some of the lower impact defensive upgrades, such as Strongbox (with the Heinlein Grid combo), Red Herrings, Old Hollywood Grid, Mumbad City Grid, etc. There is also the option that they may start running more currents and maybe even cards like The News Now Hour.

Unfortunately, the most likely outcome of this is that glacier will be pushed even harder out of the meta, until some other defensive upgrade gets printed, or until the corps have a better way of dealing with runner currents.



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