by Frisco Del Rosario
The recent mailing list discussion over whether Crumble and Romp
(and their RD counterparts, Garbage and Kilroy) trash upgrades installed
on HQ went unresolved, though it did serve to remind me that Crumble
and Romp through HQ are both exceptionally powerful cards.
Crumble and Romp both permit the runner to trash normally-untrashable
cards which are accessed from HQ. The most serious damage done to
the corporation occurs when the runner trashes operations -- no
tag-and-bag combination will succeed if the runner romps the Chance
Observation or the Scorched Earth. A fast advancement deck is worthless
when the Project Consultants hit the trash.
Whatever the corporation's plan, the trashing of a key operation
will ruin it. Someone asked on the mailing list why Romp through
HQ costs two to play, while the RD "romp", Kilroy was Here, costs
zero. I suggest that it's because Romp is a more damaging card to
the corporation -- the corporation manages his hand, installations,
and discards carefully, and a Romp or Crumble run wrecks his planning.
A successful Kilroy run, on the other hand, just prevents the cards
from reaching headquarters, roughly the same effect as putting the
cards on the bottom of RD.
The other huge factor in a Crumbler or Romper's favor is that
he guarantees that he won't access the same cards from HQ repeatedly.
When the runner trashes a typically untrashable card, his chances
for accessing an agenda next time are improved.
Cards "which normally can't be trashed" also include nodes and
upgrades that the runner can't afford to trash "normally". That
is, if the runner makes a Romp or Crumble run, and has X bits in
his pool when he accesses a node or upgrade with a trash cost greater
than X, the card is still trashed. This suggests that On the Fast
Track is an outstanding complement -- instead of paying four bits
to trash BBS Whispering and then gaining eight with Fast Track,
pay zero to Crumble, and then gain eight!
I am most reluctant to include Proteus cards in a sealed deck
event, citing Crumble plus Shredder Uplink Protocol as a combination
too good for sealed deck play, and the worthlessness of bad publicity.
If you entered a "starter plus Proteus pack" event, and your Proteus
runner cards were Subliminal Corruption and Senatorial Field Trip,
while the other players got Rush Hour, how would you feel?
With a view to the above, a case can be made for Crumble as the
most powerful runner card in the game. When the strength of the
Proteus viruses became apparent, I wrote in Quarantine that Crumble
and Garbage In would mean the disappearance of Romp through HQ and
Kilroy was Here from constructed deck play.
I've been right about that, but I've been successful with a Romp
deck lately, and it pleases me to play with an unfashionable deck.
Proteus virus decks are very common these days, and very good at
crippling the corporation. Therefore, they all share certain characteristics.
Laying virus counters is as important as finding icebreakers and
establishing income, so you see a lot of Inside Jobs and Social
Engineerings. HQ decks all contain a Shredder. Code Viral Cache,
a joke in pre-Proteus play, is in play. Demolition Run and Remote
Detonator are also found in Proteus virus decks -- it's a simple
recipe; destroy all the ice, then drop many virus counters.
This Romp deck I've been playing is a throwback, the kind of deck
we saw a lot before Proteus. It has no frills -- the income is slow
(Streetware Distributor, Smith's Pawnshop), fast (Score!, a Playful
AI for laughs, On the Fast Track), and in between (Short-Term Contract).
Two of each type of icebreaker, three HQ Interfaces, a Junkyard
and two Gideons to recycle the Romp.
I'm sure you've noticed the trend in icebreaker choice among "single-minded"
decks. Virus decks, for instance, target one fort and pack icebreakers
appropriately. The code gate breaker Dupre is sometimes big and
strong if installed early and works long and hard at hammering the
same central fort. Black Widow often chooses the first sentry the
corp rezzes on the quarantined fort as its "mate". The card we should
see more often in single-minded decks is Morphing Tool, which is
slightly better than Black Dahlia for breaking sentries, and offers
early code gate and wall flexibility.