by Frisco Del Rosario
Did any cards from the original NetRunner set get as big a boost
from Proteus as Disinfectant and Code Viral Cache? In fact, if I
were to try to put Proteus in a nutshell, I would express it this
way: "Disinfectant in a Roving Submarine."
Nothing underscores the power of the Proteus viruses better than
the fact that Disinfectant -- a waste of a card slot in v. 1.0 play
-- is now a great card to sink in a sub.
The story goes that the Wizards of the Coast NetRunner development
team kept the v. 1.0 viruses weak on purpose, because they were
concerned that stronger strains might be too good. One of the v.
1.0 viruses, Skivviss, would actually help the corporation at times,
and some of them were so benign (Butcher Boy, Deep Thought) that
the corporation might let the viral counters sit around endlessly.
How times have changed. The Wizards developers felt it was safe
to unleash the deadlier viruses with the Proteus expansion, and
suddenly we were regretting that we included Disinfectant or Code
Viral Cache in two-crappy-rares-for-one-good-one trades.
Let's survey the viral landscape. Viral Pipeline and Scaldan flat
out win games. Viral Pipeline is unarguably the best virus program,
literally choking corporations to death. Pipeline, I think, has
joined Loan from Chiba in the unofficial class of cards, "so good,
it's boring, and we'd rather play with something else."
Scaldan would probably be one of those "so good, it's boring"
cards, except for its requirement that the afflicted corporation
has to roll a die, and random cards are always fun (look at Quest
for Cattekin -- is any other card so enjoyable for both sides?).
How else has the NetRunner environment changed with the addition
of the expansion viruses? HQ Interface and RD Interface are played
far less often, because Vienna 22 and Highlighter work like interfaces
which grow. The once-feared Romp through HQ and Kilroy Was Here
preps are mostly replaced by Crumble and Garbage In, Garbage Out.
I think Wizards expected corporations to forgo actions more often,
seriously underestimating the pain and impracticality of that forgoing.
In order to cope, corporations are hiring more and more Edgerunner,
Inc., Temps, for the three actions the card imparts can be foregone
to remove counters.
Do you think the Wizards folks regretted fixing the installation
for Cascade -- the best v. 1.0 virus -- at four when they were working
on Proteus? If Cascade costs four, how much should Viral Pipeline
cost by comparison? Ten?
Proteus even served to aid the older, weaker v. 1.0 viruses. For
* Who played with Fait Accompli as long as corporations were fast
advancing agenda in new forts? Fait Accompli has new life in conjunction
with Precision Bribery.
* Pox was at best a minor annoyance in v. 1.0 play, but imagine
Pox counters combined with Armageddon -- first the corporation has
to pay Pox bits to install a card, and then has to roll dice to
see if the darn card survives.
* Deep Thought permits an action-free look at RD, followed by
three Promises, Promises, and a run on a Tycho Extension.
* Naturally, Incubator, which was a "who cares?" card earlier
because it was incubating crappy viruses, is now a killer. Same
for Code Viral Cache -- it used to protect two relatively harmless
counters, but now it's serving to lock down a Pipeline crush.
Corporate CEOs, get your flu shots!