last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Romper Room

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.


Frisky's Corner