This review is an update of the one I wrote for the Yagura we received in Fear and Loathing (https://netrunnerdb.com/en/set/fal). This ICE is deceptively powerful AND it has grown stronger in several ways with the new meta. Here are some key considerations regarding Yagura:

  • Yog.0 and Parasite: ARE NO LONGER CARDS. This is a massive boost to the playability of Yagura, and it should be noted that Yagura saw a good amount of usage even when they were available.

  • Sneaky: Due to the high danger of hand loss when running on face-down Jinteki ICE, a great many Anarch and Criminal runners without access to Self-modifying Code will attempt to find and install their Killer icebreaker before checking unrezzed ICE. Yagura is a Code Gate, which when deployed in-faction means that it's subroutines have a reasonably good chance of firing when first rezzed due to the misdirection that the threat of Komainu and Cortex Lock present. On the flip side Yagura's low strength means it can be easily handled by many popular AI breakers, so be sure to consider cards like Swordsman in order to punish such runners.

  • Efficient: Yagura has a high Break-to-Rez cost ratio (2:1) against nearly all standard Decoders, meaning it is economically very effective for the price should the runner wish to break it's subroutines. Fortunately, Yagura's subroutines are excellent and it will very often demand this price.

  • Painful: Cheap, recurring net damage like the second subroutine of Yagura is a terrible thorn in the side of a Runner, often translating directly to click loss as they seek to replace lost cards. When combined with other forms of tick net damage (for example, House of Knives counters) this will dissuade runners from accesses and slow their game considerably. Some less-savvy runners will think that Yagura's lack of an ETR subroutine and the survivability of it's single point of net damage effect means that they should run through it over and over again in the early game if it's the only card defending a central server. This is a huge mistake as the attrition damage of Yagura will snipe valuable pieces of their game-plan out of their hands and force them into damage control turns.

  • R&D Defense: The first subroutine when deployed over R&D can actually be just as good as an "End the Run" if not sometimes conditionally better. This is largely deck composition dependent, as Yagura works best in a Jinteki deck with thorny cards that trigger damage when accessed from RnD (Breached Dome, Snare!, and Obokata Protocol are good examples). When the first subroutine fires, the corporation gains a chance to bury a trashable Asset or stealable Agenda and effectively "Re-Roll" the top card of their deck, hopefully coming up with something the runner cannot effectively deal with or that will punish their hubris. Additionally, a low-level mind game ensues every time that the corporation chooses to leave the card on top of R&D. This can even occasionally make seasoned Runners flinch and back off, allowing you to keep a card that you want to score or install despite them having the capability to trash/steal it (this technique is for true Jinteki masterminds only). Having at least 4 credits in the corporate bank and a rezzed Yagura that cannot be broken over R&D is a flashing Keep Out sign for most runners. It's important to note that permanently-installed "R&D Lock" cards like R&D Interface and Medium are no longer in the game which improves the value of this subroutine compared to the previous meta.

  • Deck Filtering Utility: The first subroutine, when placed anywhere else BESIDES your R&D that the runner will want to go often, is a much subtler effect that may sometimes go unbroken by Runners who think that they aren't hurting themselves. The subroutine transforms itself from defensive to utility in this circumstance, allowing you to scry next turn's mandatory draw and roll up a new card if what you see won't directly help you at your current stage of the game. This is an insidious ability that runners will agonize over spending the credit to stop you from having when they run through a Yagura over HQ or Archives, creating a win-win economic scenario for the Corporation.

  • Deck Composition: As alluded to in the R&D defense bullet point above, the first subroutine of Yagura really shines best in a Jinteki deck that includes many thorny and/or hard-to-trash assets. Fortunately the red faction has plenty of ways to make the going tougher for the runner even on the cards that they DO access. Jinteki: Personal Evolution can use Yagura to feed Obokata Protocols to the runner for a 5 net damage "opportunity" to steal when they know the runner is unable based on current hand size, Jinteki: Potential Unleashed gets bonus value from any net damage you manage to trigger from your deck, and Industrial Genomics: Growing Solutions may benefit from their ID ability to harden R&D against accesses by making the Assets and Upgrades of their deck too economically punishing to trash on access. With the first subroutine of Yagura you most likely want to be taking your chances by sending the topmost card to the bottom of R&D as little as possible, and having a deck that plays to that by usually showing you something you want the runner to see the first time is very advantageous.

  • Comparison to Mirāju: Mirāju appears very similar to Yagura in base stats (cheap Str 0 Code Gate) and when building a deck you should compare the two closely. They fulfill very dissimilar functions however. Mirāju can help Jinteki defend HQ and deal with Agenda Flood but it's use cases are far more narrow then Yagura and it allows the runner to derez it if they're willing to commit clicks and credits to runs, which can be used in certain cases to make the corporation poor through sustained economic warfare (how often will you be willing to re-rez Mirāju?). I believe that Yagura is the more generally useful all-around low strength taxing Central server Code Gate, but don't be afraid to mix the two up to provide broad coverage central-server defensive value.

  • Comparison to Pup: Pup is a Jinteki Sentry of equal rez cost to Yagura. Pup is not at all a bad piece of ICE (anything that compares so closely to Pop-up Window likely isn't), but I feel it's overvalued by many people. While it's possible to argue that Pup is more broadly useful in a deck that isn't built to synergize with the R&D defense effectiveness of Yagura, I would personally never consider slotting a single Pup in a Jinteki deck before I had already included 3x Yagura. The subroutines simply do not compare.

  • Splashability: Yagura is an amazing piece of ICE design that offers a great deal of play in Jinteki, but a pricey 2 influence is actually the least of it's problems when considered as a splash out of faction. Almost all of Yagura's singular strengths depend on synergies within it's own faction, and the 2 influence cost for such a small piece of ICE makes it very uncomfortable fighting against Pop-up Window and Fairchild 1.0 which are much more general-duty small Code Gates available to the other factions.

Jinteki's upcoming identity in the Red Sand cycle ("AgInfusion", spoiled in the Worlds 2016 FFG stream) will be a good home for Port Anson.

Are you detecting a network intrusion from an unidentified off-world IP address? Route it to your signals team on the moon, backed up by the Sol system's most advanced analysis software to ensure that the unauthorized data signature is thoroughly scrubbed. Could some friendly experimental test facility be at the base of the server, keeping Port Anson company? Perhaps the Port is guarding an Archives full of cuddly lotus flowers, byproducts of your tireless efforts to feed the Martian colony? These are creative exercises for the reader.

RP couldn't make this work because as the existing review aptly states, with that ID the runner has always been able to choose the least of 3 possible evils to make their first run of their turn and get at your remote servers. J:AI will have a field day though, as the choice is in their hands to place the runner in the worst possible position. Do note that for maximum effect the outermost rezzed ICE on the server AI routes the runner to must be previously rezzed somehow as the ID causes a bypass of the 'approach' step.

Chrysalis is a piece of ICE that got a lot of buzz when it was first spoiled (Booo! Get off the stage!). However, it's been pretty quiet since the release of 23 Seconds. After all at the end of the day we're looking at a card that is basically 2/3rd of a Neural Katana for 3/4 of the price, and nobody even plays that card anymore! I think Chrysalis deserves a second look for certain Jinteki decks, even if it's numbers don't inspire pure worker-bee like devotion.

  • Chrysalis is deck slot compression. Corporate decks need to include a lot of things to function. You've gotta have ICE and money and Agendas and upgrades, and you'll always be cutting something you want just to make it to 49 cards. Jinteki decks in particular have a deck slot demand that most other corps do not: 'Prickly' cards that punish the runner for access and thereby slow down or change their game-plan. I'm talking about Shock! and Snare! and the like. Just as Fetal AI is a 'prickly' card that doubles for your Agenda requirement, Chrysalis is a prickly card that doubles as an ICE deck slot. When you see Chrysalis in your opening hand you have two options: Install it as ICE or leave it in hand (perhaps with no ICE even guarding HQ) as a trap for the runner to wander into. Maybe you have enough other ICE you don't need it for the second option. Maybe you have no other ICE to threaten with and you NEED to install it so you don't get Siphoned turn 1. But just having that open-ended option in a single card is pretty significant. Long-time Jinteki players know that the best ICE in your deck is really anything that is still face-down. The runner can't afford to lose their hand to Komainu on the first turn! Chrysalis gives you that threat if you need it, with a side benefit if you don't.

  • Chrysalis is pretty annoying to break. The difference between Strength 1 and 2 for Sentries is pretty important now that Faust is finally on the MWL. Powerful Killers like Alias, Mongoose, GS Shrike M2, and the upcoming Golden all need to pump their strength to break the subroutine on Chrysalis, and all of them end up over-paying to do so! If Criminal comes back into the meta this will be very relevant.

  • It's a credit-free net damage trap from RnD or HQ. Account Siphoning your PE down below 4 credits for Snare! and hungrily guzzling down the multi-access events is a thing that certain decks want to do to defuse your big threats. Chrysalis fires off of no money and is a double-Shock!..! Runners have a lot of difficulty not peeking at RnD or HQ if you leave them un-iced on turn 1, and this effect is hilarious when they don't see any need to install their Sentry breaker early on.

  • You honestly kind of miss Neural Katana, just admit it. Other corporations that have spent entire years importing Swordsman have discovered our secret: sniping the Runner's cards out of their hand is amazing. 2 Net damage is a lot more than 1, and while we must of course defer to the awesome net damage power of Komainu (the big Daddy Dogs of Jinteki Sentries) that 5 rez cost is very significant. 2 net damage for 3 credits is pretty excellent when you think about it, and the possibility exists that runners will see you dip just a few credits below the 5 you need for the Dogs and feel like they're safe. Mix up your ICE and show them that curiosity can still kill the cat.

Unfortunately, we have to address the elephant in the room: Mimic. Once the runner has installed Mimic you are probably not going to want to waste your money rezzing this, and it becomes a mere 1-credit tax on the runner when seen from a central server (or 2 if they feel like trashing it). That's obviously a huge negative bullet point and is probably the entire reason we haven't seen a whole lot of excitement for this card past the initial spoiler. Another tough interaction is Political Operative, which it has been ruled can be used to trash any card with a trash cost, even Chrysalis once it has been installed and rezzed where it would normally be totally safe. I expect that's not a huge problem since usually Political Operative is being reserved by the runner to hunt important Upgrades but it's useful to know.

In short, I expect the overall power of Chrysalis to be directly tied to the relative balance between Criminal and Anarch in the meta. If we start seeing more blue this gets some good value. However, even in a poor meta-state for it I believe that this ICE deserves some attention simply for the deck slot compression benefit it offers. PE loves having yet another card to zap the runner from RnD, and Chrysalis is at it's best in a deck that doesn't mind leaving one of it's central servers wide open for a long period of time. Other Jinteki decks that have traditionally had trouble squeezing in the dedicated deck slots for prickly cards may appreciate the ability to have their cake and eat it too here.

We'll be coming back to this one when card rotation first hits in Spring 2017. This looks to be the first of likely many cards we will be getting that are tweaked versions of Genesis cycle cards incorporating lessons learned from years designing the game and watching the meta evolve. It will be interesting to see what Damon and his team indirectly tell us about how they perceive card and faction power levels through these.

Here, it seems like they felt that Snitch had an effect which deserves a spot in the Criminal color pie, but they likely felt that once it had hit the board in a deck designed for it was a bit too permanent and/or non-interactive. With Au Revoir and enough link to run Cloud breakers, a Criminal jack-out deck had essentially complete impunity to bounce off outermost ICE every turn no matter what subroutines that ICE may have, building free cash, free information from Reflection, and a free battery of multi-access from The Turning Wheel counters and essentially being untouchable for many Corporate archetypes until they made their unstoppable mega-run. Strategies like this one alongside powerful icebreaker tutors and overwhelming AI breakers are part of what have been contributing to a general meta environment of devaluing the ICE that corporations slot, and this drives Glacier decks away from the meta unless they can slot very specific answers to such decks (Executive Boot Camp is one such card that springs to mind).

I for one am glad to see this card, because it means that Criminals still get to keep an important part of their factional abilities without continuing that undesirable trend. Criminals may not be able to tutor up instantaneous answers to ICE, they may not be able to install one single AI Icebreaker and guarantee access to their target, but if they're willing to spend 3 and a deck slot they will still be able to pressure the corporation in the early-game without a full breaker suite and not jeopardize their lives and valuable programs. I don't know if GPI Net Tap will be a card that sees much competitive play after Snitch has left us, in fact I suspect that it won't, but I also feel that is fine. It is a balanced card that offers a useful ability, and it's a card that Criminals deserve (even if it's maybe not the one that they want).

I expect it to see some play, since rotation will not only get Snitch out, but also Faerie. —
My first thought with this was that it would make #blackguard somewhat more viable. On closer inspection the deck itself has some econ denial potential but it doesn't let you get in any better, and forcing the corp to rez simply denies them the option to refuse to rez a card you might otherwise not have encountered. I'm debating how to work this into a kind of #blackguard + #Knifed setup but the total amount of influence eludes me right now. —
I assume you cannot delay your decision to jack out until after the Corp has rested the ICE... The “you may then” language presumably means that you have to make that decision immediately. —
I don’t understand this card. Why should I trash it to jack out when I can jack out either way? I thought jacking out is part of the approach. —
For the first ICE you approach per run, you cannot jack out during the approach. For any other ICE during the run, you can in fact expose with GPI Net Tap and then jack out normally (without trashing the Tap). —
Ah, I see. Thanks! —

Edward Kim is an Identity card with an ability that seems entirely straightforward, but actually offers a surprising number of useful side-effects for the discerning Anarch. First, let's discuss the obvious power he wields:

  • Operation Trashing : We need to recognize that this ID ability is dependent on the use and frequency of operations in your local meta corporation decks. Against an average by-the-book corporation deck, operations tend to exist at around the 9-10 card mark. Certain Weyland and NBN builds will go as high as 14 or 15, while any of the corporations (though most often Jinteki or HB asset-focused builds) may rarely elect to have less than 8. Right now with Valencia in the meta, Corporate currents are being pushed highly, and this will likely only continue to be the case as the power levels of those cards (and Runner currents) rises in sympathetic waves. This means that the higher end of the scale is more heavily weighted, in my opinion. In this sense Edward is in a good position already: ignoring the high and low ends of the scale, on average his ability is likely to be able to trash roughly 1 out of every 5 cards accessed from HQ and R&D (9-10 operations in a 49 card Corp deck assumed).

For many people, I suspect this is where analysis of Edward Kim ended. His ability seems certainly interesting at just this stage, but it's not got nearly the zing of Noise's systematic meltdown of the corporate deck, MaxX's flood of cards from your OWN deck, or Valencia's guaranteed potential with the powerful Bad Publicity-enabled cards. This is a mistake, as Edward gives you access to several intangibles that are not immediately obvious but nonetheless are nearly as powerful as the face-value effect of his ability.

  • Face-Checking : Ed has possibly the strongest central server face-check game of any Runner ID currently in print, perhaps tied with Gabe Santiago, who provides no contest vs. R&D. The best play for corporations in a world defined by ICE destruction, surprise multi-access events and Account Siphon is to avoid rezzing ETR ICE over R&D and HQ for as long as possible. Edward Kim dramatically skews this consideration over both R&D and HQ by promising a much greater probability of a punishing access that denies them cards that offer Economy (Hedge Fund, Restructure, Sweeps Week, Celebrity Gift, Successful Demonstration), Board Position (Oversight AI, Housekeeping, Enhanced Login Protocol), or even their Win Conditions (Biotic Labor, Scorched Earth, SEA Source, Trick of Light, Neural EMP, Psychographics, Midseason Replacements.... need I go on?). Operations are the lifeblood of corporate decks, the glue, the nutrient-rich solution inside of which ICE and Assets and Agendas are able to function. When those three basics break down, many corporations rely on Operations to win the game for them. Edward threatens the death of corporate operations with every single random access he makes against the two big central servers, and in so doing he demands ICE rezzes in the early game. In the faction that owns Parasite and the new Cutlery ICE destruction cards, this is an excellent psychological advantage to possess. Played properly Edward can place the corporation on the back-foot in their mind, even if he fails to trash a single operation with whatever early accesses he makes.
  • Central Digging : Operations that are hammer-smashed out of HQ and R&D are one less card for the corporation's Agendas and their more vulnerable Assets to hide behind. Edward is the strongest identity in the game for repeated central server multi-access, because once every turn he has a decent likelihood of clearing away an 'ablative' operation card. In a hypothetical game where Edward Kim installs a new Medium or Nerve Agent, it's entirely possible that the first card he may see on the attacked central server may be an operation (if it's not already either an Agenda or trashable Asset/Upgrade). If that's the case, the subsequent 2-card access he runs is guaranteed to be 2 cards that he hasn't seen before. Guaranteed multi-access with HQ Interface is very threatening with this identity because it crushes a category of card that corporations could normally rely on to shelter agendas and vulnerable assets/upgrades in their hand.
  • Surviving the Flatline : Nearly every flatline deck relies on Operations to close out the game (even if that operation turns out to be one or more Neural EMPs to finish the job that a Ronin started). In combination with pleasingly-thematic card I've Had Worse Edward seems unlikely to bother with the previously nigh-mandatory Plascrete Carapace most Runner decks have been forced to include. Being such a tough character is, of course, also a boon against Jinteki decks that seek to inflict tick net damage and benefit from the click compression of Runners drawing back cards to fill their health bar.

The final question you're likely to be asking is, What kind of deck does he do well in? Well, that is the catch.

  • Edward does not give an economic boost to your deck: A truly powerful Edward Kim deck could be a force to behold, but unlike most top identities he does not offer a helping hand to get your game set-up. His ability seems to want solid running economy powering a straightforward and fast rig, but Eater and the various "instead of access" cards it supports are a complete nombo with Ed. Account Siphon, Vamp, and other economic denial cards are probably great for him because you'll already be denying the corporation cash from trashing their economy operations. Imp can put even more pressure on then it normally does, since Edward will on occasion save you counters you might have spent on operations in centrals. This allows Imp to focus on getting rid of ICE and expensive assets or upgrades. Flexible pump icebreakers for the Sentry and Code Gate categories are likely splashes. Sneakdoor Beta could be a very strong surprise to flank the corporation's ICE and start wrecking operations from HQ all over again. You'll need a strong economy backing things up though because you need to create accesses on the central servers to see a benefit from Ed, and his ID ability just doesn't offer anything to get you there.
I've been playing Ed since he came out and this review of him hits the nail on the head. I Totaly agree with this review his greatist power comes from shutting down win conditions like Scorched or Biotic & Plascrete just isn't needed hell I've had worse usually just gets played for draw i find. One thing he dose well is punish an undefended HQ or R&D just keep running to see more cards thanks to his ability and assessts. All in all this is a great review. —
I like your idea of central breakers splash, but only for one kind. Breach is inferior the the in-faction Corroder, and Mimic+Cuj.0 are better than Alias, which is probably the weakest central. That being said, I can actually see Ed splashing Passport over Zu, but is +1 strength worth it over being able to run remotes? (not to mention the inferior boosting effect) —
Actually, after writing my reply, I don't see the point of splashing Mimic over Zu when they're the same influence. If Ed was a criminal or if Passport was 1 influence I'd agree. —
(and by Mimic I mean Passport) —
That's true. I hadn't really looked closely at the central breakers in comparison to other options when I wrote this piece. I'll probably edit that line out. —