(Core Set Perspective (mostly))
I really like Viktor 1.0. He's cheap-to-rez, has respectable strength and subroutines with both bite and blocking power. The trouble is that within the Core Set、 Viktor (and most other code gates) get a particularly raw deal, by being the perfect target for a certain glowing key of doom, which will sail through him for 0 and make you various kinds of sad. Ditto with Enigma. What this often boils down to is that you are either,
- Stalling the runner by making them spend some (probably not much) time looking for Yog.
- Making them pay 5 for the 3 you did to rez him.
Even non-key decoders don't exactly have a rough time of things, so it can be easy to write Viktor off as useless. Once the card pool expands and the variety of breakers isn't so limited, I've found Viktor gains new life, becoming a pretty respectable low-cost code gate. It also highlighted something I now consider to be his best quality, even if you only play with the Core Set - he's subtle.
Whereas big ICE like Heimdall 1.0 and Ichi 1.0 have the definite sense of being obstacles that really should to be broken with the right tools, Viktor is just low-strength and light on the subroutines (while still being 3 to break with something like Gordian Blade) to make the runner's fingers hesitate over that Special Order or Easy Mark and think, "Hmmm, maybe I'll just click through him instead?", and it's been surprising (for me, anyway) how many clicks Vik can sap from the runner without being obvious about it. They might not even notice. They might think "Where did the corp get all that money? When did they get the time to put all that ICE down? Why are my card choices so limited at the moment?" and the reason might just be that a lone Viktor has being quietly pewing away at their clicks and gradually nudging you into the lead.
Of course, it doesn't always happen this way. Sometimes the runner has the right thing on hand from the start. Sometimes they are drowning in cash and can just get all the breakers they need. Sometimes you're so screwed by an opening handful of agendas that you'll need something, anything, for a bit of protection, even if it's obvious. I'd say more often than not this will be the case, but in those instances where Viktor does come through, he can tip the game in your favour without even you realising it.