Macrophage 3[credit]

Ice: Code Gate - Tracer
Strength: 7
Influence: 0

[subroutine] Trace[4]. If successful, purge virus counters.

[subroutine] Trace[3]. If successful, trash 1 virus.

[subroutine] Trace[2]. If successful, remove a virus in the heap from the game.

[subroutine] Trace[1]. If successful, end the run.

One way to get rid of a virus is to get a nastier virus.
Illustrated by Mariusz Siergiejew
Decklists with this card

Quorum (qu)

#119 • English
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  • Updated 2024-01-19

    UFAQ [Michael Boggs]

    If the first subroutine on Macrophage resolves and the trace is successful, but there are no virus counters hosted on cards and no cards that will be trashed from the purge effect, does the Corp still lose 2 from Fester?

    Yes. Subroutines that are not broken must resolve, even if they will not have any direct effect on the game state.


I actually came up with a card idea awhile back that was remarkably similar to this card. The differences being that my ICE didn't have the third subroutine and the strength was much lower but it also wasn't a tracer. My thinking was as follows: There are a lot of viruses. Many of them are extremely good cards. All of them have low install costs (all cost between one and three, not counting Crypsis). Sure there are a couple antivirus cards. But Cyberdex Virus Suite is the only one that is really played. And sure, it is a good card; you'll certainly be glad to have it when facing a virus heavy deck. The problem? It's almost a completely dead card if you find your servers un-assailed by malicious viruses. You may be able to bait a run with it or thwart a siphon, but in general, it won't help you. The solution? An antivirus ICE with a universally useful subroutine included. And here it is, Macrophage.

Here's a rundown on Macrophage.

It is a seven strength code gate with four subroutines. And it is rezzed for just three! That is amazing. To actually break this the runner is going to be spending a lot, nine with Gordian Blade. They could just let the subroutines fire but a runner with no link will have to spend at least 10 if they want to win every trace. This ICE is neutral with no influence cost.

-The first subroutine is great. Why? Because spending an entire turn to purge counters sucks. At a trace four, you have a good chance of winning.

-The second sub is awesome. Trash that Medium before another R&D dig. Trash the Parasite that's about to claim another victim. Or trash that stupidly annoying Datasucker (it really is one of the best runner cards in the game and costs far too little in install and influence costs). A trace three isn't bad; boost it if need be.

-The third subroutine is pretty useful too. Anarchs love their Deja Vu. It sucks losing two ICE to Parasites just to have the runner pick 'em both back up in one click. And because it fires after the previous subroutine, you should have a target to remove from the game.

These three subroutines can of course usually be totally ignored by the runner if they don't have any viruses. But now on to the last one.

-The last subroutine is both the best and worst thing about this ICE. It's great because it is always useful, whether there are viruses on the board or not. But it is only a trace one, yuck. Still there are ways to boost that for free. And if it ends up costing the runner only one to get through each time, that's not too bad for a three rez cost; not great, but not bad.

But wait! There are at least a couple of notable interactions with this ICE that go beyond its antivirus potential.

Aryabhata Tech: With four trace subroutines that will most likely fire, you can get a lot of work with just one of these installed, never mind two or three. By the time the first three traces are done, you may have a easy time landing the end the run subroutine.

Chief Slee: Again, since the subroutines will usually fire, Slee can smell the blood in the water. This seems to be an easy include if you are still trying to make her work.

I forgot to mention that the ICE I came up with also did not have such a clever name. I looked up Macrophage and found the following: They are a type of white blood cell that engulfs and digests foreign substances in the body. Certainly a fitting name for this powerful ICE.

(Quorum era)
In the absence of viruses, the last sub makes Macrophage at least useful for siphon defense. —
The biggest liability right now is Power Tap, but against that you just never rez Macrophage. —
Played against someone last night that was using this and I had power taps out, was netting 3 creds every run. —

It is worth noting that Macrophage combos great with Aryabhata Tech even (or rather especially) when your opponent doesn't run any viruses in his deck, because he has no incentive to fight the first 3 traces. Since this ice has 7 strength, it's trace subroutines are definitely going to fire. So he will lose and you will gain 3, and then he will have to beat your trace when you fire your last subroutine. So now we have 3 virus wrecking, taxing, money making, end the run code gate. What more do you want?

Probably the NBN: Making News ID ability.

(Quorum era)
And Chief Slee :D (sounds like a joke, but works surprisingly well) —
I dont know about that, slee would get 4 counters, that one short from the magic number, its a little clumpsy to use —
That's just about 5 meat damage for 5 credits on one ice encounter, where Scorched would require a tag, 3 credits to spare and < 3 cards in grip, and is usable once. —

This card requires a re-evaluation now that [[Cyberdex Sandbox]] is a thing. Before, it was a hate-card first and foremost. Now, it is a powerful economic tool that is arguably the most extreme example of Code Gates Rez-to-Break ratios. Macrophage is positional, Macrophage is phenomenal.

Assume you play glacier, and the runner has spent 8-ish credits breaking two pieces of ice in front of it, they now sit opposite of an ice that costs either 5+ credits to break with a powerful breaker like Engolo, or will encounter two pivotal traces - Trace 4, or the corp gains 0-12 credits, and Trace 1, or the Corp ends the run. Sine the first sub will often feed into the 2nd, runners can't expect to be able to get away with paying low sums.

[[Thimblerig]] helps move Macrophage to the innermost position of each server, and that's where it should be - after all, the subs are most punishing post breakage of other subs. One way to counter this power a little bit is to understand that [[Cyberdex Sandbox]] only gives money the first time the corp purges viruses. This means that repeat fires of the first sub don't do much beyond removing virus counters.

There's also the problem of the Sandbox score being a requirement to turn Macrophage "on". This means that the ice is particularly suited to AGinfusion builds, that have a relative ice flexbility meaning that if not yet active, Macrophage can be used as a boop too.

Given the relatively prevalence of the NWE's new Maxx build, Macropage stock can be expected to rise up and up.

(System Update 2021 era)

Good review. With the inclusion of more no-link runners and the virus deck being mostly prevalent in Maxx, the traces are also very relevant.

The usual reviews for this have gone up for this particularly good piece of ice, albeit in specific situations (when the runner is using virus cards). So now, I'll talk about a hilarious weakness I found for this ice, as a runner, while I was running a Medium. Note to corps, look out for this card combination:

  1. As the runner, I had two Power Taps installed (3rd one still to be drawn)
  2. I had two Festers out
  3. I had a Medium installed, corp installed Macrophage over R&D to keep me out!
  4. I ran R&D 4 times, only beating the trash virus program trace
  5. I drained 16 s from the corp when they repeatedly purged viruses
  6. I gained 32 s (minus beating the trash virus program trace) on these runs through Power Taps

A peculiar situation, but hilarious should you find yourself in it as the Runner, and soul destroying as the Corp.

P.S. It's possible I got the exact math wrong, but basically you drain the corp a lot, and you gain a bunch of credits.

(Station One era)
I guess it can generally be said that rezzing tracer ICE against Power Tap is not necessariy a good idea. —
I think the bigger point is that tracer ICE with subroutines that the Runner can afford to fire are a bad idea against Power Tap. Most traces are for stuff like tags, damage, or program trashing, so it's not a big an issue. Macrophage, though, can be safely bounced off repeatedly for $$$ —