So after the Colossus of Rhodes, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus, the Pyramid of Giza and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Lighthouse of Alexandria has graced us with its shining presence! That leaves only the Temple of Artemis and Statue of Zeus for our '7 Wonders of the Ancient World' ice set. Can't wait to see what Nisei will come up with next!
On to the card itself. Pharos is a barrier with 5 strength and 3 subs. It gives the runner a tag, which is uncommon for a barrier although not unheard of, and has two etr subroutines. All of this for the high cost of 7 credits. When it comes to barriers we (unfortunately) always have to let it face off against the gold standard fracter, Paperclip. Clippy breaks Pharos for 4 credits, which is not insignificant but doable. Corroder and Sherman go through it for 6 credits and Makler for 7. Gauss will require just 5 credits on the turn it is installed, but 7 after that. So all in all, good numbers, but nothing fantastic.
However, a piece of 7 wonders ice wouldn't be what it is without some kind of advancement counter syngery. Pharos gets a strength boost if it is triple advanced, similar to Akhet. Except its strength doubles to a whopping 10 strength! That number is absurd and puts it on par with Curtain Wall (on the outermost position) or Wotan, but for literally half the price of either of those. At this point even clippy has to pay 9 credits to get past Pharos, and any other conventional breaker starts in the double digits.
So essentially, we want Pharos to always be triple advanced, to make it worth the investment cost. Luckily there are some support cards. This ice is a great addition to SSO's repetoire, although I fear that ID might have lost too much to rotation to be viable. There are also Priority Construction and Wall to Wall. And since unlike the space ice, Pharos benefits from being advanced at any point, not just before its rez, you can always use Dedication Ceremony. Like any other big ice, Pharos is somewhat weak to destruction and derez shenanigans (they just printed Tranquilizer), so keep that in mind.
The art is lovely, and I love the sense of scale we are getting by looking "up" at this gigantic tower. I am always excited to see how artists are gonna interpret something so old from real life, and Owen did an amazing job!
In conclusion, I think this barrier is quite niche and won't see widespread play, but it is another strong tool for the advanceable ice archetype, as well as a cool newcomer to the wonder family.
I think it's worth noting that Boomerang, the common go-to for breaking high-strength ICE can't get through it without sticking the runner at least with a tag, which is pretty cool. Or terrible, if you're the runner.— Chezni
I will say that Pharos has been a beast in Startup format, where we don't have Paperclip. Corroder and Cleaver are the best fracters in town, and we are hard pressed for high-powered ICE in that format. Slotting two Pharos has been very strong if your deck wants to build remotes.— HolyMackerel