The Future Perfect, aside from being a tense, is an agenda dedicated to making the runner run remotes. It's a serious answer to Jinteki's problem of porous central servers.

Jinteki has always had a strong remote game. From Project Junebug in the core set, to Fetal AI in the first cycle, to Psychic Field in Honor and Profit; Jinteki has always had strong ways to punish runners who check face-down remotes. Unfortunately, cards like this have made R&D and HQ "porous", in that a runner could run in, trash an ambush for petty cash, and then run back in, sure of seeing at least one new card.

This weakness has crippled early Jinteki builds, which had to use threats like Ronin or Snare! to keep the runner from ignoring advanced remotes, or accessing too many cards at once, respectively. But these often required a persistent flat line threat, like Neural EMP, Scorched Earth, or other damage effects to allow Jinteki to capitalize on the advantage. A deck focused on non-flatline wins often found itself crippled by this weakness.

Then, The Future Perfect arrived. Instead of being instantly stolen, like other agendas, or requiring a set amount to steal, like Fetal AI, or NAPD Contract, this required the runner to play a guessing game. The mathematics of this game have been floating around for a long time, as well as debates on whether to randomize or not randomize, so I won't go into that here. Here is a detailed analysis. The real point is that this triggers only on access from centrals.

A savvy runner will try to exploit Jinteki's weaknesses by accessing lots of cards from centrals. The Future Perfect makes many of these accesses unproductive; if you consider the oft-quoted median number of random accesses to win (17), this makes some of the accesses not even count--throwing the math way, way off. A runner could try to re-access the agenda from a central, and play the psi game again, but this has about the same effect of going back to a slot machine because you removed all the losses from it. With that in mind, let's consider some counterplay.

Agendas take paths throughout the game: from R&D, to HQ, to either a remote or Archives. (From there, the possibilities fan out.) Due to how the game is played, the corporation can't meaningfully alter this part of the path. It can slow it down, by keeping cards in HQ and not drawing; speed it up, by drawing and installing aggressively; or try to reset the cycle using Jackson Howard. The Future Perfect allows Jinteki to hold an agenda in hand for a much longer time, allowing them to build up a solid plan to score from a remote. (Or, in rare cases, fast-advance.) It doesn't, in itself , bring Jinteki closer to winning--much like a Scorched Earth when the runner has lots of and no tags.

With that in mind, a good thing for runners to do might be to analyze the board, and dismantle whatever would allow Jinteki to score. If it's ice, building up credits and installing breakers is a reasonable counter-play. If it's upgrades like Caprice Nisei or Ash 2X3ZB9CY, accessing them and trashing them becomes a priority. If the runner can stall out the corporation's plan, more agendas will build up in HQ, ripe for sniping. There are also at least 12 more points of agendas, which the runner might try to access. Finding these tends to be a burden. Some "deep dig" builds might manage it, but it's a serious investment that puts a lot of eggs in one basket. A third option is to use the card to drain money from the corp, by betting 0 over and over again. If the runner can access for free, it's a solid plan, but clicking to make the corporation lose 1 is only worthwhile if the corporation is near 0 .

Glacier-style Jinteki decks are extremely happy with this card. It allows them to build defenses gradually, without placing all their resources in centrals. The most obvious comparison to this card is NAPD Contract, an agenda famous for "protecting itself," but I think a more apt comparison is Caprice Nisei. A single lost psi game, and the cards are gone, giving a major advantage to the runner; but the cards protect themselves 2/3 of the time (roughly). In the same way, both are best played with lots of taxing ice, so that runners can't use the cards as if they say: : the corp loses 1 . As Jinteki gets more ice, and more interesting ice, The Future Perfect will see more varied use.

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Here is a list of resources with cost 3 or greater.

I don't do reviews of cards that I haven't played with, but here are some initial comments: With Daily Casts and Earthrise Hotel being popular, this card is a nice boost. Key resources, like Professional Contacts or Xanadu, need to hit the table when they're drawn, making decks looking to capitalize on Career fair need to play resources that don't need to hit the table right away. Rachel Beckman could fit in nicely there.

At the date of writing this, Criminals are the least suited to a strategy reliant on high-cost resources: there are only 3 cards on the list, and all of those cost 3. This card promises a wider variety of resources in Criminal hands, hopefully in this cycle. Strangely, I expected this type of card to include hardware after seeing The Supplier.

I doubt I'll come back to post a long-form review of this card; the economics of Modded are well explored.

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Worth pointing out how this lets you suprise people with Hades Shard again. —
The comment about Criminals beign ill-suited to a high-cost resource strategy is doubley true when you consider how often Criminals find themselves dealing with self-inflicted tags. —
This card's 1 influence is a serious tell to players. FFG are effectively saying: this is strong out of faction but we want you to use it. —
There are enough tag avoidance cards in Criminal to start seriously looking at a "never tagged" strategy. The main problem with it so far is the lack of in-faction ways to slow rushing corps down besides Account Siphon. I tend not to analyse cards ITO out-of-faction tools--if you try to import everything, then you're fighting your own ID. —

Mamba is a powerful tool in a flatline deck: it provides on-demand damage, it helps secure multiple servers, and its strength and type set it neatly in a "hole" for most breaker suites. Any rich Jinteki flatline deck should strongly consider this piece of ice.

In the Lunar Cycle, much thought was given to complete "sets" of cards. The most prominent example on the Corp side was the Grail ice--Galahad, Merlin, Lancelot, and Excalibur--but other sets were introduced as well. For example, the brilliant (and underplayed) "morph" ice from Weyland, or the set of "Constellation" ice: Taurus, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Gemini. So it seems fitting that this cycle finally gave Jinteki a "snake" ice to complement the other three: Uroboros, Viper, and Caduceus.

Like the other three snakes, this sentry is "porous", in that the subroutines can fire without ending the run. Also like those three, it's powerful enough that the runner won't want the subroutines to fire.

When evaluating ice in Jinteki, the typical wisdom trends towards making the runner spend s or cards in a single, massive batch to keep from losing via flatline. As experienced Jinteki players can tell you, setting this up is difficult. You need multiple pieces of ice sitting on valuable servers before their individual effects add up to a large "payment" from the runner.

This ice doesn't add appreciably to the cost in cards of running a server--if both subroutines fire, an initial instinct is to treat this as two net damage. But the power of the second subroutine is that the net damage can be used regardless of which server the runner is hitting.

If all ice is rezzed, this means that the runner has to assume that the "card cost" of any single server is increased by one for each counter on Mamba. This is deadly if a Komainu triggers. It's likely to bring them below three cards if the corporation has a few counters saved up--perfect if they're running on Snare!s. The flexibility of the power counter gives this card a huge strength.

Furthermore, this card is likely to catch runners off-guard. The strength is higher than Mimic, and using a Femme Fatale to bypass only gets them through one at a time. (And leaves a Komainu untouched.) These are the most commonly used killers--Faerie is a strong contender, but only works once, and as Jinteki, you need to be burning through those. In short, this card slips through the cracks of most conventional breaker suites.

That said, this power comes at a cost. 6 rez cost is nothing to sneeze at, and then you still need 2 to play the psi game. So an Emergency Shutdown is a good counter to this card--and something you might want to keep in mind before rezzing. Some AI breakers, such as Eater and Atman, make it through this card well enough, so you may need some anti-AI tools, such as Wraparound or Swordsman.

Perhaps one reason this card doesn't see as much play as it deserves is its uniqueness in the card pool. This card defies comparison. House of Knives replicates its ability, but only on an agenda score--a far different requirement than rezzing an ice and winning a psi game--and the one-per-run restriction doesn't exist for Mamba. Shinobi is similarly priced and around the same strength, but due to its bad publicity and trace, it's only really rezzed when the runner is about to die. Bullfrog and Snowflake both contain the psi mechanic and are pretty taxing, but don't directly contribute to killing the runner.

Perhaps the most potent comparison to rezzing a Mamba is scoring a House of Knives and rezzing a Lotus Field simultaneously. In both instances, you can do some damage, threaten to do more damage later, and present a problem that many runners can't easily deal with. Or, to compare this to an out-of-faction card, Ichi 1.0 is fairly similar, though it works in a different strategy entirely.

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I like the theme of the card: the first subroutine is its bite, and the second its poison. —
I see some synergy with Helium 3 Deposit but very situational —
Unfortunately now MKUltra has perfectly matching breaking ability for 3cr —
A year later, no it doesn't! —

Three Steps Ahead, like most criminal cards from after the Genesis cycle, is wildly undervalued in a game that's increasingly geared towards unconventional modes of thinking. Much ink has been spilled over the upcoming Day Job; but the same furor could have easily been geared towards Three Steps Ahead.

Historically, criminal builds have run a fairly standard suite of programs and resources--programs like Datasucker and Yog.0 to make runs cheap, resources like John Masanori and Security Testing to spread ice thin, and a console like Desperado to aid in trashing resources. In these builds, runners typically make one to two accesses per turn, staying nearly credit-neutral. Cards are ranked based on their credit efficiency above all else, since the assumption is, with enough accesses, victory becomes inevitable.

Unfortunately, like most optimized machines, these decks have blind spots where they break down. Near-Earth Hub gives fast-advance decks one free draw, if they want it, and economic assets like Marked Accounts and PAD Campaign strain economies geared towards keeping their heads just above water. Glacier decks make keeping runs credit-neutral nearly impossible, with ice like Lotus Field and Kitsune hitting blind spots in the rig. Finally, agendas like NAPD Contract and The Future Perfect defend themselves, making an accessed agenda not necessarily a stolen agenda.

With this in mind, criminal builds are casting about for a new paradigm to latch on to--or, at least, solutions to new problems. The idea of getting more for successful runs, however, is still fertile soil for criminals to explore. After all, one of the newer criminal identities is Ken "Express" Tenma, whose love of run events is deep and far-reaching.

So consider Three Steps Ahead. On its face, it looks like three Security Testings, resolved sequentially. With three successful runs, it nets 5--one more than Sure Gamble. However, unlike Security Testing, it allows for accesses and other cards to replace accesses. If one of those runs was a Security Testing run, then it would net 7--though 5 would come at the end of the turn. With one Dirty Laundry, it would net 8--the same as a Day Job.

Gaining 8 in a turn with two event cards isn't that special. You could do the same with two Sure Gambles. But with a live Security Testing, that becomes 10. And with a Doppelgänger installed, it becomes 12. Or, with a Desperado instead, 13--spread out through various timing windows, of course. You could fairly say that only 5 come from Three Steps ahead, and say that taking a "money turn" isn't productive, but this minimizes the effects 5 for three successful runs can give to the game.

A deck that wants to maximize accesses will eventually run out of money. Three Steps Ahead gives money along with accesses--keeping the runner's window of opportunity open. A deck that plays powerful run events like Account Siphon or Indexing wants them to land, and Three Steps Ahead rewards that. Typically scoring plays cede momentum to the other side; Three Steps Ahead keeps that from happening.

This won't work with all decks. A deck built around Blackmail, Blackguard, or similar sniping runs will find this card useless. Shaper decks that force an RnD lock will scratch their heads with this, and Anarchs may find themselves locked out too often to call this an economy card. Decks with explosive potential--that is, the ability to quickly turn nothing into several successful runs--will find the most use for it, provided that they can get in to at least one useful server. However, with more corporations playing undefended assets (as of Dec. 2014,) this is pretty likely.

The two best cards to compare with Three Steps Ahead are Dirty Laundry and Grifter. Dirty Laundry, despite being the bane of new players hoping to trash SanSan City Grids, is a solid tempo card that combines an Easy Mark with obtaining new information. And Grifter, when given a chance to breathe, helps keep the runner's "scoring window" propped open. While cards like Bank Job and Security Testing both give money in exchange for accesses, they both replace those accesses, making them less suited to use when it's time to find agendas.

You may think I wrote this review mainly to abuse the new symbol. You would be right.

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Against the right deck type, this card is great. If you're playing against NEH then yeeea, free money; with the right support cards, a lot of free money. But if you're facing a glacier with no naked remotes and substantial ice on all servers including archives, then this card becomes dead weight. I don't ever see it played, probably for this reason. —

There are typically two types of criminal decks: those that can get money quickly, and those that lose. Tri-Maf Contacts plays into that mindset by being an economy card that could lose you the game.

Criminals are said to be the "economy faction", the runner faction that can turn just about anything into credits. Data Dealer, Desperado, and Bank Job all point to this. However, for quite a while, criminal economies lacked in non-running economy, having only Easy Mark in faction. Tri-Maf contacts was the first card to address this disparity, laying the groundwork for future cards.

Any discussion of an economy card has to start with math. I apologize. If you want to skim, I'll have a header at the bottom where the math stops.

When talking about economy, most people start by talking about click equivalents, and counting them as ~1 credit. This is silly, and has led to some pretty bone-headed analysis in the past. A better way to think about things is how many credits the card gives per click. Assuming runners are drawing consistently, as they should, this leaves the play cost (in credits) and the click (or two) to play. (Some may argue that one should include the click to draw, but it's good practice to draw an average of 1 card per turn. That's not a cost inherent to the card, but to the game's strategy.)

If you'd like actual math, the formula for credits per click is: (credits gained-credits spent)/clicks. So, Hedge Fund is (9-5)/1=4 credits per click (cr/cl). Note that this puts it as less "efficient" than Easy Mark, at 3 cr/cl--the play cost is the difference there. Lucky Find is (9-3)/2=3 cr/cl--the same as two Easy marks. This indicates that there are three real variables to consider: play cost, credits per click, and raw credits gained.

Resource economy typically involves more variation of those numbers. Daily Casts gives the most credits per click, at (8-3)/1=5 cr/cl; but the payout is over several turns. Underworld Contact typically requires at least one link card to be played, so, if installed with Access to Globalsec, the card provides (1*n-3)/2 cr/cl, where n is the number of turns elapsed. Kati Jones is complicated enough that I won't go through the math here. Daytodave has posted a review of Kati with some relevant math.

Tri-Maf, then, is fairly simple: it gives (2n-2)/(n+1) cr/cl, where n is the number of times Tri-Maf has been used. Note that, as n gets large, the value becomes nearly 2 (as we would expect). This is not as impressive as Daily Casts, but the raw credit generation is massive: while Daily Casts only gives 5, Tri-Maf gives 2n-2, which, if the game goes on longer than four turns, is greater than Daily Casts. Underworld Contact will have the same cr/cl as Easy Mark in 9 turns, as above, but Tri-Maf, in that time, can net 16 credits.

The real question is how does Tri-Maf stack up to Magnum Opus, the holy grail of economy cards. If they are clicked at the same rate, then Magnum Opus has (2*n-5)/(n+1) cr/cl--less than Tri-Maf. Unfortunately, Tri-Maf has the once-per-turn restriction, so Magnum Opus can run up its times used much faster than Tri-Maf. The question, then, is whether Magnum Opus should be used more than an average of once per turn. I can't say, but I suspect it's more like 2 times per turn--more against taxing decks.

Here ends the math

To sum up all of the above, Tri-Maf very quickly turns a profit, at the expense of needing to spend one click per turn using it. The advantage of turning a profit quickly can't be understated--when a runner plays a Daily Casts, they're usually opening a scoring window for the corporation.

The drawback, however, is a bit spooky for most people. Meat damage has been feared since Scorched Earth. However, this card helps to protect itself. Trashing resources requires a tag, or, in the case of Foxfire, a trace. Since most tags come via traces, a healthy economy can keep Tri-Maf alive--and, hey, Tri-Maf is an economy card!

Criminals also have plenty of work-arounds, if you can't out-money the corporation. Fall Guy and Decoy both prevent the card from being trashed, and Crash Space will keep you alive if it is trashed.

The most dangerous situation a criminal might find themselves in, is spending most of their credits whiffing on a run that might have won them the game. Typically, that's a risk that one takes in a do-or-die situation, like taking your third point of brain damage with a Stimhack or trashing your rig to an Ichi 1.0. Either way, you're likely losing the game if the run doesn't pay off. These are calculated risks that Netrunner players have become accustomed to--"if I don't, he wins" situations.

In any case, the best card to compare Tri-maf Contact to is Kati Jones. Both give a good number of credits as the game goes on; and both are vulnerable to trashing when tagged. But, while Kati Jones gives you credits eventually, Tri-Maf gives you credits on demand, making it a bit more flexible. Since both have a "use once per turn" clause, they both need to be supplemented with other economy cards. And, since Tri-Maf is vulnerable when the runner is at low credits, runs that leave the runner broke should be considered Stimhack runs.

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Since Order & Chaos Deluxe expansion, Tri-Maf has gotten far better. Its low cost in influence means that it can easily be imported into an Anarch build, and its drawback can be mitigated by the use of 'I've Had Worse'. —
Extremely vulnerable to Contract Killer. One for trashing (Three MD) plus another one for 2 can end the runners game. —