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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey


"Big Morphing Boon" defined the best Sentry ICE breakers. This week we look at a suite of ICE breakers you might not have considered. The idea came about by considering a pair of Sentry breaking cards that are nearly as good as AI Boon: Redecorator and Clown.

AI Boon is still the best Sentry breaker. It is a single card that ends up doing your work more cheaply than any two other cards in the game. Redecorator and Clown are close, though, and as long as you have 2 MU remaining, what Wall and Code Gate breakers benefit most from a Clown?

...Crystal Wall, which is favored for its uncanny ability to make Wall breakers pay at least 2 bits.

The Code Gate breaker of choice for this setup (like so many others) is Skeleton Passkeys. Adding the Clown really brings it to life. Many Corporations include Quandary and Haunting Inquisition specifically as a match for the Passkeys. These include Jim McCoy's "Nasty Code Gate Deck" and Frisco Del Rosario's "The World Would Swing..." Adding the Clown moves the advantage strongly back toward the Runner.

For Walls, I cannot recommend Wrecking Ball highly enough. This breaker single-handedly made Worm obsolete, at least in lieu of Silent Impact. It just gets 2 bits better with a Clown, and also foils the Corporation's use of Crystal Wall, which is favored for its uncanny ability to make Wall breakers pay at least 2 bits (exceptions include the unpopular Bulldozer, Dwarf, and Fubar).

That leaves us with the best 4 MU breaker suite: Redecorator, Skeleton Passkeys, Wrecking Ball, and Clown. How does it stack up in the competitive world of Netrunner?

Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker and Joan of Arc are still the King and Queen of Runners. Compare the setup cost of my suite, 21 bits and 4 cards, to the setup cost of Bartmoss/Joan, 5 bits and 2 cards. You must run repeatedly to make your money back.

Comparing Sentries, Bartmoss pays a weighted average of 5.8 bits per Sentry (those commonly encountered) while Redecorator/Clown pays only 2.6 bits. Assuming this savings holds roughly for the rest of my suite, you still have to encounter 8 ICE before you start reaping the benefits. That may or may not be realistic depending on the Corp you are facing.

You might try Zetatech Software Installer(s) to lower the installation cost. Using a Raptor until you get enough bits for the Redecorator is another option.

Another cool thing to try is playing The Personal Touch. Playing this card on your Redecorator, with the Clown installed, means you can pass nearly every Sentry for pennies. Playing a second The Personal Touch on the Wrecking Ball can also reap big savings if you repeatedly run over a Wall of strength 4 or higher. Because Skeleton Passkeys has such a large strength increment, The Personal Touch doesn't affect it much once the Clown is installed.

I've decided to call my breaker suite "Zamboni". It really flattens ICE nicely. Play with Redecorator, Wrecking Ball, Skeleton Passkeys, Clown, and two The Personal Touch. You'll beat Bartmoss if you run enough, and earn the respect of your fellow players, besides.