Oh look. This looks like that it is the enthusiastic kid we've seen much later on an art for Recruiting Trip.

Your script can pull off the Kobayashi in .12 seconds, but can it staunch profuse bleeding from a stomach cut open?

Some career you've had!

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Lol nice spot. Weird that this mini-line was chronologically out-of-wack though. FFG was actually pretty decent maintaining those. —
naw, sword guy wears a watch on his right wrist, Recruiting Trip kid doesn't wear a watch at all. CLEARLY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. —

Ever met a psychotherapist that would pay you for being their patient?

Yeah. Me neither.

The point is, Mike here is probably not a "psych" at all. Might be a good listener, yes, and have the warm-and-caring act up to eleven (brushing tears away and the like are mostly cheap theatrics), but then, kept well in-theme for the lost Nisei sister she's paired with, she's only in it for the ugly, dirty corporate secrets you managed to stumble upon with your improbable telepathics.

She doesn't want to help. Or rather, she does, but only to the point of profitabilty. Not a deliciously naive psychic clone looking for guidance? Well boo-hoo, that's four influence pips per visit, sucker.

Thanks for tuning in, ladies and gentlemen. Analyzing the lore behind these little pieces of art for you was a fun thing to do. H0tl1ne, out.

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[H0tl1ne here, with another flavor review.]

The title and the card art are both a pretty clear reference to a short story by Daniel Keyes, titled Flowers for Algernon.

The story describes Charlie, a mentally challenged thirty-seven years old, working as a janitor in a plastic box factory, who undergoes a miraculous medical treatment which, over the course of several months, increases his mental capabilities significantly, to the point of fluently operating several foreign languages and conducting medical research by himself.

Algernon from the title is a lab mouse the treatment was first tested on. As a part of the experiment, both Charlie and Algernon take part in solving maze riddles. Earlier in the story, Algernon easily bests Charlie and the man grows to resent the mouse, but as the treatment progresses, Charles manages to solve the maze faster than the rodent does. He ends up loving and caring for little Algernon.

In time, however, the effects of the treatment eventually reverse, first observed with the mouse's erratic behavior, loss of motor function and, finally, death due to severe neurodegeneration. Charlie accurately percieves it as a grim prediction of what is going to happen to him. The depression takes him over when, despite his efforts to resist the change, he forgets everything he has learned since the beginning of the treatment. The story ends with his wish that somebody leaves flowers on Algernon's grave in the backyard when he's gone.

It's a very touching story, and a pretty accurate description of retrogenesis, an occurrence common with people suffering from Alzheimer's disease (the fresh skills and knowledge are the first to vanish from mind - the degeneration of the brain is just like its development in prenatal state, only as if seen in reverse). Seeing it referenced by a card in my favourite game was like a sudden kick in the feels.

The reference itself is pretty elegant - having Algernon on board lets you ramp up fast with more clicks per turn, even overcoming the very flaws you were born with. That is, to a point where it ultimately fails, trashes and plunges you back into the dark state you were trying so hard to get out of.

Flavor aside, it seems like an interesting piece, if only to be found exclusively in Adam (five influence cost should be enough to discourage combo artists trying to replace the now-banned Hyperdriver). You have to pay for your additional clicks, and when you do, you better make sure you can make the cut - or else you will come to a grinding halt. High risk, high reward, a strong effect that can tip the balance in your favor for as long as you can ride the wave.

I wish every card in this last expansion we ever get had a flavor this excellent. But then, Sportsmetal: Go Big or Go Home is somehow found in the same box, along with a few other baseball-themed pieces. How would these relate to the cyber struggles we so enjoy having? Hell if I know.

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Well done! —
I really enjoy your flavour reviews, H0tl1ne! They're always a great balance of informative and entertaining (^^). Please keep it up! —

[Story time with H0tl1ne! After a brief hiatus, we're back in the saddle. As it shows, some habits prove really hard to kick.]

I can't help but notice how rapidly has the overall feeling of the game changed over the last five years.

Yes, Android always was a future cybernoir dystopia, although despite all the corporate struggle over human lives and minds, the societal struggle to push back the economy shift caused by the android revolution, the scheming and backstabbing, it still felt somewhat... marvelous to me. Yes, we're still a bunch of pricks that find it hard to live on the same planet together, but look, somehow we're in space now! And we've built the Beanstalk up to the sky, a dream shared with our most distant ancestors! Hell is other people, yes, but look at us, making new, synthetic people out of scrap metal and/or biomass! And they are sentient enough to ask what does it mean to have a soul! We've got flying cars! And holographic television! And geothermal ener... You know what, never mind that one. The point being, the future is dark, but it is also brilliant. And, to me, this sole notion was somehow light-hearted, optimistic even!

Now that I think of it, it's all caused by the first impression this game made on me. In the good old Core Set, you might have stolen some secrets, yes, but what secrets were those? Some corporate mumbo-jumbo about requisitioning things? Job openings for people good with guns? Buyout of some rival company? Or perhaps was that some beta testing schedule or the biggest ad banner to ever light up the sky? Underwhelming, isn't it? It's almost like those people were doing legitimate business instead of shady deals you assumed. Does your breaking and entering feel meaningful to you already? Black hat - more like dunce hat, eh?

(There was a Minority Report-based exception to the rule, but it only serves to prove me right. Corprations five years ago had next to no dirty secrets to begin with. And this... feels pretty crucial in a game revolving around stealing or protecting dirty secrets. Right?)

Luckily, the Revised Core Set is here to make things right again.

Take a look at this one. Bioroids are advertised (and thus commonly believed) to be completely harmless. They've got these sweet built-in directives that prohibit the machines from hurting a human being - or even allowing one to be hurt at all. Metal men are your biggest friends! They are programmed to love you! Wouldn't that be horrific if any single one of these ever had an ability to, out of the blue, change their mind and murder the crap out of you? Whew, good thing that's never come to pass!

Suddenly, Project Ares.

(Oh.)

"Who wants to start a war?" What war? That's pretty obvious - our new additions are called Ares, like the ancient greek god of war (not Kratos). With Project Ares you're not only giving your bioroids guns. You're doing something so much more meaningful - you're lifting their restrictions to kill. Contradicting your own status quo. Whatever the Runner has in their rig, you really gotta hate it to do something like this.

That war you're starting? It will be waged in the media. The sole idea of fiddling with the three directives is enough to cause people to panic, given how little love they already have for tin men taking their jobs. They will crap all over you if you don't do it gently - "we lifted his restrictions and he demolished a pawnshop, it was fun but let's never do it again ever pinky promise (until Aesop gets his arm back in the socket)" probably won't cut it either. I imagine this is why you have to advance this agenda four times: making bioroids kill stuff seems easy, it's preventing the outrage that could prove difficult. There always will be voices of dissent - that one bad publicity you get for turning Ares on the cybercriminals at the gate - but that's not much compared to what happens if somebody gets his hands on the unfinished project...

Because then, the public is going to know you're in your basement, cooking up an army of murderbots. Nobody is going to listen to you explaining this was done for the good of science (and bane of pawnshop owners to Heinlein and beyond). Good show, Runner. Two points for you and thanks for being such a badass hero of the far future. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to sharpen my pitchfork.

Again, who wants to start a war? Because you certainly don't. Get this Ares scandal under control and do it right now. Maybe if you spend enough time on this, we could get away with a shot or two before we lock it up, never speak of it again.

This might be a weak (or niche) piece, but damn me if it's not thrilling to put it on the table. With Project Ares, you really are doing the forbidden thing. "But the runner gets to pick what gets trashed and what not!" Yes, I know. That is the point. For example, do you remember that time in Darkest Dungeon when a certain eldritch abomination forced you to choose which one of your beloved heroes is going to die next?

It's all about this thrill, this pressure. When you get to pick the target, it's clear as day - poof, Gerbil lady gone, console gone, breakers gone. No drama. When they do... Do I trash this? Or that? Which part of my extremely valuable combo rig I could part with and still be able to do anything? Sometimes it's plain, like with a one-credit Bank Job kept purposefully for this occasion (or these stupid frickin' breakers that keep reinstalling over and over again until you puke)... But then, sometimes it is not. And this is when Project Ares turns out to be a really, really fun card.

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Glad you're back! I think your flavor/fluff reviews are really fantastic, and help with the game's sense of immersion. —
Thanks. Glad to know somebody cares about the flavor in the brave new post-rotation world! —
I just started playing Netrunner a few weeks ago, so your reviews are some of the first immersion I’m getting in the lore. Thanks again! —
Nice reading from you = D Your reviews are still very cool. Thank you for doing them = ) —
Also glad to see your writing again. Keep it up, please! —
I love these; but I’d like to point out that Astroscript was the test program for advertising on the moon; not. a pilot show. —
Alright, that sounds a little more ominous. But it's just an another exception - the point still stands. Thanks for pointing that out. —

[Story time with H0tl1ne! A little more personal than usual too.]

Today, I would like to share with you my greatest disappointment I've had with Netrunner. I don't think this will be a good, meaningful, interesting review, nor do I care. However, if you wish to read on, please be my guest.

The funny thing is, Unregistered S&W '35 was actually the reason I picked up Honor and Profit expansion pack, my first big box since the Core Set - I looked at the back of the cover and noticed this, and then thought to myself: "What?! This game has hacking AND guns? SOLD!". And then, I rushed down the highway to absolute poverty by spending the most of my savings on even more Netrunner, despite playing almost exclusively on Jinteki.net and finding that this game indeed had guns, only the majority of them was pointed at you.

So uh, guns are a thing in the future. What a surprise, right? To somebody who knows the 'verse solely from playing Netrunner, this might indeed be a surprise - so far, S&W '35 is the only Weapon type Hardware that is obtainable by Runners. We've also got bombs, but, mysteriously, these are NOT considered armaments. Hell yeah, f*ck consistency!

Unregistered S&W '35's main merit is that it is... unregistered. In the far future of corporate fascism, not unlike our world, guns have serial numbers and the death dealing is strictly regulated, to ensure that all the boomsticks go to all the right people. This way, every bullet fired ever can be traced back to the gun that fired it, which makes homicide a really risky course of events.

But sometimes you manage to slip an iron through the cracks of all the security measures. Gene-locks can be hacked, databases erased or edited, some goodies can even be manufactured at home, not to mention the secondary market some of the higher-ups profit from a lot. It is, however, a costly and risky process if you're not in the business, which explains three influence a piece for non-Criminals. But if you already do know someone who delivers (which means, you've spent your pips), getting a gun and ammo is dirt cheap - just one credit.

S&W '35 fires .22 LR rounds, the third most popular type of cartridge in the dark future of Android, way behind 9x19mm Parabellum and .45 ACP., and is one of the three variants you can get a standard Skorpios handgun in. Quite ironically, .22 is the type of ammo most used in present day's small gang-related violence as such small arms, referred to as zipguns, can be made from basically anything, from sink pipes to pens. Small cartridge size also means small size overall, which makes our only gun a perfect choice for an infiltration mission, as it is portable and easily concealable - since you actually have to get inside the corporation's HQ while packing, none of these is without worth.

This card has supposedly been meant as a way to counter high-end security measures such as Ash 2X3ZB9CY, Caprice Nisei or anything that basically sits in a server and makes a break-in especially costly. If successful hacking into a server requires you to spend 10+ credits and then win a Psi game on top of it (33% success chance), it is better to just spend several clicks in order to blow someone's head off and then just walk in like you owned the place.

Except this card is really, really unwieldy. In order to successfully use it, you need to invest not two, but three clicks (one to run HQ, the other two to make it work). All this not counting the click used to install it, and if you have it in your rig, you're losing all the element of surprise you'd otherwisely have with a well-concealed gun. They will hesitate to rez their meaty stuff when they know you can shoot it down (heck, most times they only rez it right before you end the run, so there is actually no window for you to do the killing!) - and if you pull out the gun and fire, you're left with no time to break in before they set up countermeasures that are less murderable. The only way to use your pistols properly is to combo - but these clicks are better spent actually trying to break in.

This card is ultimately disappointing, yes, but my disillusionment with it is something else entirely.

When they give you cool goodies, your immediate thought is to do cool stuff with them - and what can be cooler than an assassination mission where you climb the forty-story tower in order to blow the brains out of the people behind all this - Boondock Saints style - netting you the final two points you need for the coolest victory ever had by anyone?

You can't do this though. This is not how this card works. Your targets must be put down with money, not with bullets, if you want to earn your points.

This is when I realized Netrunner isn't a cool game about doing inspired, spontaneously cunning stuff to be reminisced many years later. It's your another collectible card game about power creep and spending money on things you don't want to play but you have to, because everyone else does. It might have cool flavor, but it is there only to taunt you, to make you think of the game that might have been - in a beautiful world where earning money from your sales doesn't matter.

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As a person who played almost exclusively jank for a majority of my time with Netrunner... *hugs* Its okay. —
Think of it as a metacommentary, really. The future of cyberpunk is ultimately one that shows that at the end of the night, it does not matter if you are that novahot runner packing unregistered heat, ready to get back at the evil corporations. Unless you have the money, and knowledge and contacts, unless you are someone, you are going to be no one. The criminals that matter have contracts, not guns. —
A brief reminder: we're talking about Android universe, where a twelve-year old girl with her pet dinosaurus plushie managed to wreck the majority of world's economy in less than half a minute. If, in the same world, a determined lowlife with a gun can't at least grind some gears, I call inconsistence. Cyberpunk is meant to be violent. It never was about making a difference more than about being heard. And gunshots are, well, loud. —