Anyone who’s played Caduceus enough can tell you full well how often an unpumped trace-2 ETR subroutine is unsuccessful if fired. Given that nowadays, many runners are packing link due to dangerous threats like Exhibit A or Exhibit B, that trace-2 ETR can end up costing the corp a lot more than they paid for. However, anyone who’s ever played Resistor can tell you how often their trace-4 ETR subroutine is successful (if not broken) and how valuable it is at a great rez cost.
My point is that Surveyor is valuable as soon as soon as you can get X = 4 (making Surveyor have ICE/trace strength of 4). This is because it immediately makes the (arguably) top 4 killers in the game very, very sad:
• Out-of-range for Mimic without support
• 5 creds for Na'Not'K (which will never have more base strength than Surveyor as long as X > 2)
• 5 creds for Mongoose
• 6 creds for MKUltra
This is pretty good at a 5 rez cost and letting both subs fire can be expensive to pay through (Power Tap builds aside) or game-ending. There is a catch, however – Surveyor needs support from an additional piece of ICE to get X = 4. Which makes Surveyor quite difficult to play early game since it’s got a huge upfront of having an additional ICE installed + its own rez cost of 5. The immediate synergy that comes to mind is pairing this bad boy with Jinja City Grid or other installation-support cards.
But what about when X > 4?
• Mongoose is awkward since it only boosts cleanly to odd-number strengths while Surveyor will always be at even-number strengths. This means Mongoose will be saving 1 credit from its break subs ability but will be losing 1 credit from having to over-pump
• Na'Not'K will always require at least one pump at its awkward 3-for-2 ability and will require one more pump for every additional pair of ICE on the server
• MKUltra is in the same bin as Mongoose since it only pumps cleanly to odd-number strengths. It’ll require X/2 pumps to get past Surveyor and that really gets out of hand as soon as X = 6 or more
• Mimic, git gud kid.
Cards like Surveyor are the finale in the Kitara cycle's plan to rejuvenate the Glacier archetype (although ICE destruction being back is a thing so maybe not). It's also an easy target to splash into other Glacier builds at its 2-influence cost. A good face-check ICE, a better taxer as soon as you can make X >= 4 but one that should not be used for more rush-based play. Just don't let Security check on Surveyor.