by Frisco Del Rosario
Dog Whistle: Improving the Siren deck
Think back about six months ago, when the Proteus expansion was
released. Do you remember a sense of horror among the NetRunner
community when the card text to Siren became available?
"Oh, no!" we cried "The game is ruined! What's going to happen
when someone installs that in a boobytrapped Namatoki Plaza?" Similarly:
"Ack! Now that we have bit-gaining ice, we can inexpensively build
a long Rio de Janeiro fort, and Siren will be invincible!"
It turned out not to be so easy. It takes a long time to advance
a Namatoki ambush to death levels, and there are handling charges
for protecting Namatoki Plaza and Siren while they are in RD and
HQ. It's also true that the Namatoki ambush theme in general has
been weakened since Proteus introduced Enterprise, Inc., Shields
The cheap-ice-over-Rio idea got old fast, and I believe we're
seeing less of it because NetRunner players have learned that random
cards -- cards whose abilities depend on a die roll -- will fail
you at the damndest times.
Both of those plans take much time to develop. The Namatoki ambush
node must be advanced, and several pieces of ice (plus a Chester
Mix, perhaps) must be drawn before they can be installed on the
long Rio fort. I think Siren was intended to be an exceptionally
powerful corporate card, perhaps to offset the ridiculously strong
new viruses -- however, the speed of the virus decks might have
rendered a slow Siren scheme impractical.
Finally, some early Siren implementors found the card to be too
expensive once in play. It costs one bit to trigger the Siren call,
and if the first piece of ice encountered on the Siren fort is harmless,
the runner can drain the corporate bit pool by running with each
Siren is enjoying a strong rebirth at the MatchPlay Game Center,
in two decks which vary from the Siren-and-Namatoki and Siren-and-Rio
Nat Johnson employs Siren in a fort with big ice -- Wall of Ice
and Colonel Failure, for two -- and Crystal Palace Station Grid.
The fort is further enhanced by Antiquated Interface Routines and
multiple Chester Mixes. A few Newsgroup Tauntings installed elsewhere
add insult to injury. One South African Mining Corp and a BBS Whispering
Campaign provide flexible income. Johnson's agenda are well-chosen,
including Ice Transmutation and Priority Requisition.
The drawback to his deck is that it might be very difficult to
protect the central forts before the Siren call can begin. Johnson
shows good planning there, too -- the inexpensive ice he places
on HQ and RD is of the type which is uninstalled and stored in HQ
if it's passed.
So far, the plans described here have intended for the coerced
runs on the Siren to be unsuccessful. In my Siren scheme, I acknowledge
that a determined runner will succeed sooner or later -- I just
want him to regret it.
I love to use unpopular cards, and in conjunction with Siren,
Turbeau Delacroix and Tokyo-Chiba Infighting are very useful. Tokyo-Chiba
Infighting is a seemingly stinky upgrade without Siren, but if the
cards can get together in an unassailable fort, Infighting is terrific.
(On its own, Tokyo-Chiba Infighting is a good bluff card -- runners
have a difficult time psychologically running an Infighting if they
think their run might not succeed, so it's worth the risk to install
Infighting behind ice you can't even rez.)
Turbeau Delacroix plus Siren will almost always result in tagging
the runner. The runner cannot wait for a satisfactory tag defense
before attacking the Siren, for an agenda set with chunky values
threatens to let the corporation run away with the game.
After the runner is tagged, all systems are go for your favorite
tag operations and nodes. I am tickled when a Schlaghund is successful,
so I employ a few Datapools(r) by Zetatech and Omniscience Foundations
in order to increase the tag count. I also include Chance Observation,
TRAP!, and Urban Renewal, standard equipment in any meat damage
Ice is medium-sized -- walls and code gates with strength of 3,
4, and 5 plus Neural Blades (4 strength for 4 rez cost) are cost-effective
-- their reasonable costs quickly protect the surprise Tokyo-Chiba/Siren
bit engine. One big piece of ice is earmarked for the Siren fort,
Mastiff, with its subroutines to strengthen the next ice encountered.
While the Siren fort is safe (and earning bits!), the corporation
installs Schlaghund, Omniscience Foundations, Whispering Campaigns,
and thematic agenda -- Marked Accounts, Bioweapons Engineering,
and On-Call Solo Team. Bioweapons and Solo Team offer 3 agenda points
each, giving the corporation a reasonable shot to win the game in
that fashion, too.