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Bits and Pieces from the NR Trivia Collection
#16: Investment Firm

by Jens Kreutzer,
using material by Skip Pickle, with permission

Investment Firm is one of those bitgainer nodes that almost never see play. In the first place, it is perhaps a bit difficult to understand how it works, and second, once you have figured it out, its performance just isn't very impressive when compared to stars of the limelight like BBS Whispering Campaign. Let's look at the card text:

    Take 1* from Investment Firm, if it has any bits, at the start of each of your turns. Whenever 1* or more bits are added to your pool, you may put 2* from the bank on Investment Firm for each 1* you choose not to add to your pool. Effects that give you bits at the start of your turn cannot be used this way.

This means that, for example, when you use an action to take a bit, you can put two bits on Investment Firm instead of adding it to your pool. This deal of two-for-one actually isn't that bad (rather similar to BBS Whispering Campaign, in fact), but you have to wait for two turns to reap the benefits. Unfortunately, the average game of Netrunner doesn't last long enough for long-time schemes such as this to be worthwhile, all the more since you have to install, rez and load a Firm before it has any effect (BBS rezzes for free and can be used as soon as it's installed). Besides, at its trash cost of 2, it is quite easy for the Runner to trash a fully-loaded Firm.

There is one trick with Investment Firm that comes close to redeeming it. It has been ruled that if you have multiple rezzed Investment Firms, and you choose to "invest" a bit that would otherwise be added to your bit pool, you may instead put two bits on each of the Investment Firms. With two Firms, this means four-for-one, with three, six-for-one, and so on. Anthony Petrarca perhaps wanted to express this explosive cumulativity when he included the upward-soaring ray of light in his artwork - the sky's the limit.

It is too bad that despite this amazing potential for profit, it still takes two turns for it to arrive in the Corp's bit pool. I have yet to see a tournament-worthy deck that uses Investment Firms as its bitgaining method. But I'm sure that it would be fun to try and make it work in a casual game.

Be that as it may, the really interesting stuff about Investment Firm has a lot to do with the French edition of Netrunner. The thing is that nobody has ever seen a French version of Investment Firm. Since there is nothing so very special about the card itself, at first people thought that it must be a coincidence that they never drew one. But when it became clear that nobody ever drew one, the card gained a somewhat mythical aura: Some French players started looking for it as if they were on a quest for the holy grail - understandably, as they wanted a complete set of Netrunner cards for their collections.

Back in the day, Wizards of the Coast sometimes gave away complete Netrunner card sets to tournament winners. In the case of French players getting French sets, there still was no sign of a French Investment Firm: an English version of the card was slipped in with the French cards instead. So, if even Wizards didn't have any French Investment Firms, suspicion grew that this card had in fact never been printed. But it should have, since it appears on the official spoiler list as "Cabinet d'investissement". And, sure enough, there were always (second- and thirdhand) rumors that the elusive card had been seen somewhere.

We had to wait until Nov 21, 2002, to finally bring the matter to a close. Skip Pickle started a resourceful investigation and posted the following to the Netrunner-L (all material by Skip in this article is slightly edited by me):

Subject: The fabled card known as "Cabinet d'investissement"

"This was a new one for me. Maybe it will be for you too.

"Lately, I've been noodling around over on the forums at A question popped up on CCG Workshop's Netrunner forum this week, about the omission of Investment Firm from the French version of Netrunner. [...]

"I volunteered to go through my cards. I have a complete collection of v2.0 French; my brother participated in the v2.0 French localization and had received a full set because of this. Later, he very kindly gave it to me (mostly, I suppose, so that I would quit coveting it so loudly).

"This set should contain one of each card printed. The cards have never been separated from each other (they are cut, of course - I'm just saying that neither I nor my brother ever played with them or split up the cards in any way). I have now gone through these cards pretty carefully. There is no French equivalent of Investment Firm in the set. Some of you already knew this (or strongly suspected it).

"Now, I don't know how much you know about the card production process, but one of the things that should have been pretty obvious to the set producers is a hole in the card sheet. They should have noticed right off, for instance, if there weren't the same number of Corp cards as of Runner cards.

"That suggested to me that either there is also a missing Runner card in the print run (which the French Netrunner players should have noticed long before this), or that there is a duplicate Corp card (which they probably wouldn't have).

"So I did some counting, and discovered that the latter seems to be the case - I do indeed have two copies of a particular Corp card in my set. (It might also have been the case that a "new" card was introduced to the French set, but I think that would have been noticed before now.)

"Therefore, here's a trivia question for you collectors out there to chew over: Which card is it?"

To this challenge, somebody with the handle Simon Darkangel replied:

"I thought that if there was card duplication, that it would be either the card immediately before or immediately after the one that was missing. Since Investment Firm was uncommon, I found out which uncommon was immediately before (Information Laundering) and immediately after (Jack Attack)."

And Skip revealed the following:

"Nice call. It was Deconnexion Impossible (Jack Attack). [...] Just to be clear: You assumed that the English cards were divided by rarity, then printed in alphabetical order, and that the French cards were kept in the same order as the English ones? Sounds about right."

And so, there is no French Investment Firm, since they all were printed as Jack Attacks instead. But how could this mistake happen? Skip asked his brother, who was - as Skip mentioned - involved in the production process, but he said that he didn't remember, and he was in fact mildly irate that Skip would expect him to remember that far back. The one thing he did comment on was the fact that they kept the proofing area dark, much to his irritation. It made proofing difficult, but someone with too much influence apparently liked the ambience of low lighting and wouldn't let them turn up the lights.

A proofing area that is kept dark on purpose? Seems like an act of sabotage to me. Maybe someone with too much influence didn't like Netrunner in general? :-)

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