Subliminal Messaging

Subliminal Messaging 0[credit]

Operation: Gray Ops
Influence: ○○○○○

Gain 1credit.

The first time each turn you play a copy of Subliminal Messaging, gain click.

When your turn begins, if this card is in Archives and the Runner did not initiate any runs during their last turn, you may reveal this card and add it to HQ.

Illustrated by Mike Nesbitt
Decklists with this card

Fear and Loathing (fal)

#100 • English
Startup Card Pool
Standard Card Pool
Standard Ban List (show history)

Subliminal Messaging works best as an incentive for the Runner to run. Yes, that's right. An incentive.

Corp decks are at their most vulnerable when the Runner can "explode," and deal with several threats at once. A common "explosive" play is Account Siphon / Inside Job the scoring remote, while the ice is unrezzed. This play effectively counters most early scoring strategies on the corp's side. But notice that the runner has to get into HQ. Other, similar explosions also require successful runs--deep RnD digs; Account Siphon/ Vamp/ Data Leak Reversal; and so on. These all take resources, mostly in the form of credits, to pull off.

Subliminal Messaging offers the runner a choice: either start running every turn, or let the corp amass credits like a miser. If they want these clicks to be productive, then they have to start using credits and cards to get into servers, limiting their explosive ability.

Wasting a click from the runner each turn to deny the corp one free credit every turn is good for the corp, but letting the runner bounce off an Ice Wall is the worst use of this card. Runners with constant-pressure cards like Datasucker and Security Testing like making one run a turn, and can make corps regret their decision heavily.

So, there are two ways to take advantage of Subliminal. The first is to have cards that trigger off of runs, like Dedicated Response Team, Paywall Implementation, and, to a lesser extent, operations like SEA Source. These cards have the effect of making low-risk runs much more dangerous for the runner. Now the runner can either deal with those threats, or let the corp get one free credit a turn--which quickly builds up. Either way, the corp keeps pressure off while setting up scoring servers/windows.

The other way to make Subliminal messaging work is via lots of ICE that make it painful to face-check. Neural Katana, Enigma, and Pop-up Window all come to mind. These end up more effective than ETR ice in discouraging runs, since the runner can no longer bounce off painlessly. Unless the runner can break the ice, it's not getting run on. If they do break the ice, then you've probably made them spend more than a credit--taking away their economic advantage.

Subliminal, in terms of credit output, is much like PAD Campaign or Mental Health Clinic. It works best in decks with a longer gameplan, and in decks that might need to rapidly recover from going down to 0 credits. Rush decks aren't particularly invested in it, then, and decks that spam ETR ice might not want to bother. In certain, slow-playing decks with painful ice, this card shines, not because of the raw credit production, but because of how the runner has to respond.

(All That Remains era)

Terrific single-add card that I have the guilty habit of adding to almost every Corp deck I play. You'll never be sad to draw this card, and it's not game breaking to either get it or not in a match, so really only a single copy is needed. Absolutely worst, worst case you get 1 credit for free the entire game (maybe against a super hard running Criminal?). Best case you get a Hedge Fund or more of value throughout the game against a slow, careful Shaper. If you're really crushed for slots maybe the card isn't worth a spot, but I rarely find that to be the case.

Plus there's a mental factor. I find Runner's tend to not like the Corp benefiting from them running or not running. It's psychologically their special thing and the Corp shouldn't mettle. What I'm saying is I've seen this annoying a wide spectrum of players, so it's a good demoralizing tool as well as a fun card.

(Salvaged Memories era)

The System Upgrade Reprint contains the keyword "reveal", so you basically gain two credits for free in Hyoubu Institute if the Runner don't run.

With Subliminal Messaging, the corp gain the ability to have a drip economy that is difficult to shutdown. It is especially good in a glacier or trap deck, where the runner will not want to run often.

While it does incentize the runner to run, actually, it is often not worth it for the runner to run for the sole purpose of denying 1 cred to the corp.

The other use of Subliminal Messaging is to fill up the hand of the corp. Without drawing anything, you can dilute your hand if the runner did not run on the previous turn, by getting Subliminal Messaging from Archive clicklessly.

Generally, 2x Subliminal Messaging is enough to get the drip going early enough while not taking too many slots in the deck. By experience, once you have a Subliminal Messaging in hand, you will be using it on average one turn out of two. Considering that most game are about 20 turns or less, Subliminal Messaging is inferior to IPO, because each Subliminal Messaging does not bring extra value, but get the drip going. As such, it is has more worth as a 1x than anything else.

For deck that favor small econ, it might be worth as 3x, for the dilution of the hand, which will help protect whatever else would be in there.

It is nice to see such an old card (2013!), but it show its age. The art is average and does not evocate well the title, and there is no flavor text.

(Salvaged Memories era)

According to a strict reading of the rules, this card appears to be nonfunctional right now. I mean, the top part works. But the bottom part seems to be busted.

The related rules, from the rulebook: "Inactive: An inactive card’s abilities do not affect the game and cannot be triggered." "Archives- This is the Corporation’s trash pile. Archives is kept adjacent to R&D. This is where Corporation cards are placed when they are trashed or discarded. Cards in Archives are inactive."

The only exception made in the FAQ to cards being inactive is as follows: "A card with an ability that triggers when the card is accessed does not have to be active in order for the ability to trigger."

The FAQ implies Subliminal Messaging might work, but doesn't specifically say it does: "Subliminal Messaging • When adding a facedown Subliminal Messaging in Archives to HQ, the Corp must reveal it to the Runner."

The only direct implication of that FAQ entry is that if you Archived Memories that Subliminal Messaging, you have to reveal it, unlike any other card you get back with Archived Memories!

(Order and Chaos era)
the rulebook also states: "The golden rule, if the text of a card directly conflicts with the rules of this book, the card text takes precedence." —
That doesn't apply here - nothing on Subliminal Messaging directly contradicts the rules. That's for cards like Eden Fragment, which change a rule. —
Your hypothesis is that Subliminal Messaging's lower half does nothing because the rules say it's inactive. If so, why was that even included in the card? It's implicit that the ability is supposed to function. "Inactive" is to make sure that cards like Encryption Protocol aren't functioning in Archives (or HQ/R&D). —
FFG are pretty bad at writing rules, at the end of the day this is a case of "We all know what this card is meant to do" even if the rules don't make sense. —
The golden rule does apply. The second half of the text may contradict the rulebook only by implication, but the implication is clear and the only valid interpretation. —
Rez jeeves.....First click, subliminal messaging, gain a click, use that click to install a 3/2, second and third click shipment from sansan and place the counters on the 3/2. Trigger jeeves advance and score said 3/2. I'm just saying —