last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Tin Soldiers -- A look at one-cost sentries

Lessening the costs of various corporate activities will always be a winning strategy. Install seven Data Masons and rez Wall of Ice for free. Play with an agenda set of six Executive Extractions, six Genetics-Visionary Acquisitions, and six Artificial Security Directors -- eventually you're scoring agenda instantly upon installation.

So, you go through your Security Purge phase, score a few Priority Requisitions, Emergency Rig this, Skalderviken that.

I've begun looking to the other end of the ice spectrum for new ideas, and this week I'll look at the three sentries from v. 1.0 which cost one bit to rez: Shock.R, Fatal Attractor, and Too Many Doors.

There's not much new to discuss about Shock.R, a card whose praises I've been singing for a long time. Throw a Shock.R on top of a Filter, and you've paid one bit in rez cost for a combination of ice which forces the runner to find two icebreakers. Then, even if the runner breaks Filter for zero, it's Shock.R which extracts the toll -- Shaka pays three bits to break Shock.R, for instance.

I have one corporate deck which includes Shock.R as its only sentry, to be combined with cheap walls and code gates, but Shock.R's "stun" subroutine combines neatly with another sentry, like Banpei. Let's say one unrezzed piece of ice is outside a rezzed Banpei, and the corporation has only a few bits in his pool. That situation lulled me to sleep when I played most recently -- I figured my two or three bits would break Banpei and even a Data Wall 2.0 (if that's what it was), but one corporate bit rezzed Shock.R, and to the trash goes Raffles. That's a nasty surprise.

Reflector, of course, is the card which embarrasses Shock.R, but I see it employed in too few decks. Two bits for Reflector is such a small price to pay for Bolter Cluster insurance.

Fatal Attractor is not as good a card as Shock.R. Shock.R in conjunction with an "end the run" forces the runner to find a sentry breaker in order to run successfully. Fatal Attractor doesn't even slow the runner down if he's willing to take the damage, or armed with a shield.

And why does Fatal Attractor deal net damage? All the other black ice scrambles runners' brains. Fatal Attractor would be much cooler if it dealt one or two brain damage if the runner didn't break each subroutine on the next piece of ice. Fatal Attractor would also be improved by an increase to two in rez cost, justified by an increase in strength -- I'm thinking that it would then find a home with all the other black ice in Skalderviken SA Beta Test Site decks.

Fatal Attractor's subroutine is the only one in the game which takes effect if the runner doesn't break subroutines on the next piece of ice. That suggests combining it with strong, cheap ice which doesn't even have to end the run. Canis Minor and Ball and Chain are well suited to install behind Fatal Attractor.

Fatal Attractor also works nicely with that stupid Proteus ice which can be rezzed in different ways. That is, if the runner decides not to jack out after encountering Fatal Attractor, ice like Caryatid and Sumo 2008 gives the corporation two chances to rez a subroutine that the runner can't break.

The other dopey Proteus ice -- Food Fight, Gatekeeper, Sandstorm -- which permit the corp to pay for as many subroutines as it wishes, is also suitable for combining with Fatal Attractor. That ice belongs in Data Fort Reclamation decks, certainly, in order to maximize the Data Fort Reclamation agenda bonus.

Speaking of dopey Proteus ice, has anyone found a use for Iceberg or Riddler?

What's the difference between Too Many Doors and the other two sentries discussed here? Too Many Doors ends the run. Shock.R needs to be installed outside another piece of ice, and Fatal Attractor only deals damage.

Too Many Doors is a fun card. A 1-cost sentry which ends the run, and forces the players to play rock-scissors-paper during the encounter. I don't think a deck could be built around its unusual character, unless one was willing to heap several Too Many Doors over an Obfuscated Fortress, perhaps. A better use of Too Many Doors is in an ambush deck, I think. Imagine the runner's mood after "winning" the mind game, passing Too Many Doors, and then hitting a Setup.


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