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Frisky's Corner

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 and Skullcap.

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 action.

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 patterns.

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 deck.

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.


Frisky's Corner