Surveyor 5[credit]

Ice: Sentry - Tracer
Strength: X
Influence: 2

X is twice the number of ice protecting this server.

[subroutine]Trace[X]. If successful, give the Runner 2 tags.

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

Illustrated by Andreas Zafiratos
Decklists with this card

Kampala Ascendent (ka)

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

No rulings yet for this card.


Anyone who’s played Caduceus enough can tell you full well how often an unpumped trace-2 ETR subroutine is unsuccessful if fired. Given that nowadays, many runners are packing link due to dangerous threats like Exhibit A or Exhibit B, that trace-2 ETR can end up costing the corp a lot more than they paid for. However, anyone who’s ever played Resistor can tell you how often their trace-4 ETR subroutine is successful (if not broken) and how valuable it is at a great rez cost.

My point is that Surveyor is valuable as soon as soon as you can get X = 4 (making Surveyor have ICE/trace strength of 4). This is because it immediately makes the (arguably) top 4 killers in the game very, very sad:

• Out-of-range for Mimic without support

• 5 creds for Na'Not'K (which will never have more base strength than Surveyor as long as X > 2)

• 5 creds for Mongoose

• 6 creds for MKUltra

This is pretty good at a 5 rez cost and letting both subs fire can be expensive to pay through (Power Tap builds aside) or game-ending. There is a catch, however – Surveyor needs support from an additional piece of ICE to get X = 4. Which makes Surveyor quite difficult to play early game since it’s got a huge upfront of having an additional ICE installed + its own rez cost of 5. The immediate synergy that comes to mind is pairing this bad boy with Jinja City Grid or other installation-support cards.

But what about when X > 4?

Mongoose is awkward since it only boosts cleanly to odd-number strengths while Surveyor will always be at even-number strengths. This means Mongoose will be saving 1 credit from its break subs ability but will be losing 1 credit from having to over-pump

Na'Not'K will always require at least one pump at its awkward 3-for-2 ability and will require one more pump for every additional pair of ICE on the server

MKUltra is in the same bin as Mongoose since it only pumps cleanly to odd-number strengths. It’ll require X/2 pumps to get past Surveyor and that really gets out of hand as soon as X = 6 or more

Mimic, git gud kid.


Cards like Surveyor are the finale in the Kitara cycle's plan to rejuvenate the Glacier archetype (although ICE destruction being back is a thing so maybe not). It's also an easy target to splash into other Glacier builds at its 2-influence cost. A good face-check ICE, a better taxer as soon as you can make X >= 4 but one that should not be used for more rush-based play. Just don't let Security check on Surveyor.

(Kampala Ascendent era)
I may be misremembering, but didn't the recent interview with Damon make clear that he is responsible for everything until the end of this cycle? Meaning Boggs had nothing to do with this... —
I’m not sure about your understanding of the X. X = [number of ice] x 2. So Surveyor’s X is 2 by default, and an additional piece of ice on the server would make its X = 4. I’m pretty sure everywhere you said “X = 2” (“Surveyor needs support fromyou mean X = 4 —
Accidentally hit post before finished editing :\ —
Ah good point. Will edit. —

One of the only ices in the game which is both a fierce facecheck and wildly efficient. It currently (2021) has no bad matchups* and in glacierish decks it is almost always useful. It pairs well with any other ice and generates unusual amounts of value out of cheap ice installations.

  • Even with no other ice in its server, it's a reasonable early rez against a 0-trace runner. (In tournaments roughly 75% of runners are base-0).
  • With one other ice, it is numerically comparable to Mausolus (itself a great ice). It'll cause a 4+ credit impact if they have a breaker and a 6-8 credit impact if they do not.
  • With 2+ other ice it is usually one of the most expensive ice in the game to break conventionally and its subroutines are must-breaks.

UPDATE: More recently (May 2023) there are many cards flying around which can break 2 subroutines regardless of strength. Endurance has been recently banned, but Boomerang and Botulus are still in play.

*Except Tao (3% of runner decks) and Smoke (9%). In addition, a few runners have a base link which makes Surveyor less valuable early, notably 419.

(System Update 2021 era)