Calibration Testing (Downfall Playtester Review- Part 1)

Hey folks, it’s Anzekay once again! In yesterday’s article I talked a bunch about the development process, including highlighting the importance of rigorous playtesting and an energised playtest team. Today and again in two days some of those very same playtesters will be sharing some of their thoughts on a selection of cards! A few insights from having tested with the cards over the past few months, some predictions for the future, and a few windows into what testing cards can be like.

We’re starting with four Corp cards, one for each faction, today. In a couple of days we'll be doing the same with four Runner cards.

I also want to take this opportunity to mention that we are still looking for new playtesters! We’ll be doing a dedicated drive in about a month or so, between two playtesting cycles, where we’ll be specifically looking to get as many new playtesters as we can. In the meanwhile, if you’re interested, you can take a look at our current application form here.

 

angedelo

I think MirrorMorph is a really cool ID that manages to mesh interesting and powerful effects with general efficiency. It’s an ID that rewards you for really considering your turns to get the most out of your ability. Whether that’s combining several different actions to score an agenda from hand on the cheap, or just allowing you to get that extra draw, or install and still take the credit you would have normally taken with your spare action. I think you’ll see this alongside Sports as the go-to ID for “standard” HB, as well as in more specific fast advance styles.


junkmail

Hey, HB gets a second playable ID.

MirrorMorph is interesting in that to use its ability to score an agenda you’ll usually need both an operation and asset helping you out, but it can be crazy efficient when it does fire. Note that using it with MCA Austerity Policy lets you score a 5/3 with only 2 counters on MCA at the start of your turn, since the two abilities on MCA are different. Although fast advance combos are the first thing to come to mind with MirrorMorph, the real reason I love it is that it makes you pay attention to how you use your actions every turn and leads to unusual choices to squeeze as much value out of it as possible. I don’t expect to see it supplant Sportsmetal as the default HB ID but I do expect to see it in top 8s.

Miek

I think this card is going to be very good. Usually the value of an extra click for corps is really high, because of things like fast advance or scoring 4/2s etc. Because of the limitation of click-usage here, this is not possible, so outside of some very specific card based use cases (MCA Austerity Policy being the biggest one) the click is usually worth less than the credit option. Luckily, another HB identity (ETF) has shown that gaining a credit every turn is still very good.

I think this will be near ETF level, as its condition isn't too hard to achieve if you want to. In testing, I found 2 notable problems where it is difficult to trigger this ID. One is when the runner is denying you credits, and you're wanting to click for credits to get your money back. Typically a mirrormorph turn will be something like credit, install, operation/draw, however this only nets you 2 credits, as opposed to gaining 3 credits from just using click for credits. The other is if you're trying to do something asset-spam based, where you often have some strong power moves of 3x install new remotes. I think for this reason, MirrorMorph is strong but won't become the de facto HB identity, and Sportsmetal will still see a fair amount of play.

Whirrun

This ID feels very HB to me. I think it’s strong, but the best thing about it is probably the type of play it encourages. I’ve wanted to run multiple ICE’d remotes for as long as the game has been out, and been constantly punished for trying. When coupled with some support cards, this really gives that style a push. Will it be enough?...                                                      (probably not)

Whiteblade111

The first question to ask is is this ID stronger than Sportsmetal? Probably, or at least comparable strength. You probably end up triggering the credit ability 90% of the time and play it as a discount ETF, which is still incredibly good. This ID’s ability to “cheat” the click limit is limited, and I would be surprised to see a combo deck come out of this ID. I think the strongest combo with this ID is MCA Austerity Policy as junkmail has highlighted. Ultimately, I expect this to see a decent amount of play as a more glaciery alternative to Sportsmetal.

Yarrick

I tried building this ID to fast advance but couldn't come up with a list that did it better than Sportsmetal. Barring MCA, it's surprisingly hard to fast advance with this ID as the ability usually just gives you an extra credit, but I'm sure that the deck is there and some better players will find it. Even trying to build a deck for MirrorMorph is an interesting experience and I hope people enjoy this new flavour of HB.

zgc

I think you use this ID more for value than for synergy for now, but you can bet I’ll be on the lookout for combo enablers every time I see a “click:” on a corp card from here out.

 

 

junkmail

Usually worse than Batty but I guess some people need three more Batties (Battys?) in their deck but hey if you wanna make R&D that weak...

The Border Control use case is going to be the strongest one, and as Border Control escaped the MWL by the skin of its subroutines, this may see use over Batty in some of the Jinteki builds that don’t run anything seriously pointy and are already drowning in money. That being said i think most decks are going to prefer Batty.

Miek

This acts a lot like Marcus Batty for protecting your remote. Pros of Letheia over Batty - Higher trash cost so safer in centrals; Doesn't trash herself on failed Psi games, so can be saved by other protection cards like Nisei Mk2, Ash, Border Control; strong synergy with cards like Komainu or Grail that incentivise re-encounters; doesn't require an ETR sub to be rezzed on the server; gets around a new downfall runner tech card. Cons of letheia over batty - Has a rez cost, which is not insignificant; Doesn't tax the runner on clicks on their turn; Can't be used with high-value destroyer or AP subroutines.

Patrick

Usually worse than Batty in my opinion, and my limited testing of the card. I think the +1 trash and rez costs roughly cancel each other out, and that the biggest downside is the failure to tax a click, which is a huge theme in Jinteki glacier decks. Some Jinteki remotes rely on Border Control/Nisei tokens/Aginfusion/random shenanigans like Sandstorm to force a score, but aren’t actually that taxing to simply run through again, which is what Letheia asks the runner to do. Valid choice for Batties 4-5 if you don’t like Bio Vault, but usually doesn’t replace Batty IMO. 3 influence like Batty, so no particular niche out of faction, either.

RJorb

For me, this is a likely winner over Batty for typical Jinteki glacier decks. Miek has laid out the pros and cons above, and the biggest pros in my book are the higher trash cost and the synergy with Nisei Mk II / Border Control. Batty still has a niche alongside program trashing routines, although that’s pretty limited in a world of conspiracy breakers and Clone Chips. I expect we’ll be seeing a lot of Letheia, if Jinteki glacier remains popular.

Whirrun

So I’m basically only excited for this card as a ‘fair’ alternative to Batty. But that makes me pretty excited. Hopefully this takes off. If not, Batty will still be cycling eventually.

Yarrick

I’m not much of a Jinteki player and everybody has already explained what can you use this card for and how it compares with Batty, so I just want to point out how marvelous this card’s art is.

zgc

The Batty comparison is well-trod territory, but it's not Letheia's only competition. Bio Vault is more flexible and reliable, with more stopping potential and a click tax, but it lacks the blowout potential Lethalia offers and it costs more tempo up-front. Code Replicator only forces the runner through one ice, making it less appealing than Letheia for decks making tall remotes or looking to tax instead of kill. But if you're more concerned with specific ice you want re-encountered, like Komainu or a cheeky Cortex Lock, you may prefer the Code Rep's consistency. It's tough for me to judge which decks want which defensive upgrades, but that doesn't that sound like a good problem to have?

 

 

Angedelo

Game over man, game over! This card looks brutal at first blush and it definitely will be brutal on occasion, but the restrictions and the cost on this card are also severe for the corp and so, even though it has total blowout potential i think the fiddly nature will keep it from being too prevalent. Sometimes you’ll have it in hand and see just a half empty casts and a 4c liberated on the table and realise the value is just not there. However, it’s another cool card in NBN’s arsenal of fear tools, you suspect they won’t be running it but if they are…

Branimated

At one point, I was quite concerned with this card. As it stands, I think it’s a neat addition to the Corp arsenal of reprisals for pesky Runners stealing their secrets. I expect we’ll see a Hard-Hitting News at the end of the Game Over turn quite often, and while I think that combination can be potent, it just means Runners need to money up a bit more before going for a steal. Someone is going to get blown out by 2x Econ Warfare into Game Over, though!

DoomRat

I feel like I owe an apology to the Adam lounge for this card.  I’m not sure how the general use case is going to turn out for this one, but everyone’s favorite bioroid is going to have some games where they steal an agenda out of HQ on turn 1 and subsequently have no installed cards.

junkmail

This card is expensive, but expensive for the runner, which rescues it from being hot garbage.

Game Over mostly shines against big rigs since everyone’s already ready for you to Hard Hitting News them and small rigs aren’t gonna be running much more than a few icebreakers. As such this gives faster, tempo based NBN decks an out against seriously set up runners, although it does make you sad since bad pub is real bad, so you’ll want to end the game quickly. This weirdness of timing and “lose less” nature suggests to me that it might not be as impactful as you'd expect.

Miek

This card has massive blowout potential. I never personally got around to testing it, but I know some people were quite fond of the Game Over -> HHN interaction. To me, this card feels like a reversed version of Biased Reporting. As such, I suspect its average use case is going to be quite dull, and probably not quite worth playing given its large list of conditions and the bad pub downside.

Patrick

Really cool card. Slots most obviously into The Outfit alongside synergistic cards like Economic Warfare and HHN. I haven’t seen it in a fast Azmari list yet, but I think there will be one out there.

Whirrun

While other playtesters have been opining on the crazy power level of this card (including earlier versions). I have consistently underrated it based off of no direct evidence. I’m probably wrong, and this is gonna wreck some face.

Whiteblade111

I think the mistake is to try and play this as a “fair” card, and I’m more interested it using it in combination with other cards such as HHN or Econ warfare to break the runners back. In the mid to late game, wiping out all of the RDI’s or a Pawnshop + Proco resource rig can be insane tempo for the corp. I think that this operation opens up new archetypes to be played, specifically in SYNC and Azmari, as now they have an out in the late game against shaper. I look forward to playing this card, and seeing how it broadens Corp diversity.

Yarrick

A corp going SEA Source > Closed Accounts > Game Over is something I don't want to be on the receiving end of. Playing it just as a spite card after a steal usually leaves the runner in a worse position than you, and the art looks straight out of ONR, which is always a good point.

Zgc

It's not just the art that evokes Dark Souls here. This card is mercilessly punishing for any hasty or careless runner, and demands planning and timing from the corp. Most of the time, if the runner is paying, you're doing it wrong. Aggressive NBN decks love it as a midgame reset button, especially against engine-building runners, while decks that enjoy playing “Beale or No Beale” and dragging the runner through Slot Machines and Tollbooths gain a punishment tool that gets around No One Home and Misdirection. Just make sure you use that time well, before the bad pub can come back to bite you. May also have a home in The Outfit, but there's a lot of competition for that influence from other yellow cards that import for less.


 

 

Angedelo

3c for an (essentially) 5 strength barrier, those are good numbers if all you’re using it for is rushing and gearchecking. Really cool to see virus counters being used in new, interesting ways. This ice really benefits from a Cyberdex Virus Suite or two, and hopefully the meta shifts enough to allow corps the freedom to slot them.

Branimated

I still can’t get over how well this name fits the card. As far as playing it, I think decks that are in the market for cheap, high strength barriers will be happy to have it, as well as decks that are already set up to purge turtles (Jeeves, Cyberdex). The first case is the most compelling, I’ll grant. I would recommend putting something spiky on the outside of it, though!

junkmail

I love when i’m a runner and I’m rewarded for being a dumbass and smashing my face into walls repeatedly.

As such, I love this card. More seriously it’s a neat Weyland ice that makes novel use of an old mechanic to make ice strength revolve around something other than just money. It’s interactive and encourages unusual play from both the Corp and Runner. Powerful in fast Weyland and maybe will see some out of faction use. Just don’t put it on the front of a server when The Turning Wheel is out.

Miek

Funnily, most of the iterations of this card were trying to find the best name for it. This card is very good. 3c is a price corps are happy to pay for their cheap gear-checks, and it’s incredibly good against Aumakua decks, giving you double-duty power when you purge, both reducing their breaker strength and increasing your ice strength. Probably not as good as IP Block for Aumakua-specific hate, but better against the rest of the field and no-influence for Weyland. Fun times.

Patrick

Really like the idea of the card. Think it’s good in rush Weyland, but I’ve found it less convincing in glaciery Blue Sun lists, where I expected it to be good. I think it’s because ice that just end the run are rarely used in today’s meta, and have to be pretty spectacular to see play - with this I usually found myself wishing it was something more spiky. A solid but not amazing ice, which I expect to see out of the popular Argus lists.

Whirrun

Looking at the card, you would never guess that the name was the last thing to land. Really cool card, strong rush barrier and encourages virus hate that you might already be considering. You can only spend counters from your own cards, so this does NOT work with Yusuf.

Whiteblade111

This card is extremely good in Argus, Blue Sun, Titan and SSO. By the time the virus counters seriously accrue, you’ve usually extracted enough tempo/value from it for it not to matter. If this allows you to land an early HHN or rush an Oaktown, that’s great! You can also reset it with Cyberdex and a manual purge. I think this barrier will see widespread play across Weyland, and perhaps even in rush decks outside of Weyland at 2 influence.