Hoshiko is pretty neat.
I've been out of netrunner for a few years. Stopped around Flashpoint, and only recently got back in, when some friends said "hey, let's play Startup!" So this review is from the point of view of someone who mostly plays Startup format these days. It's possible that there are deep, subtle nuances that I'm missing from not having played this card in standard. You have been warned.
That said. Hoshiko is pretty cool.
It took me a game or two to really "get" her ability. I found it kind of hard to parse, since it's spread out across two sides of her card, but the simplified version is basically:
- As long as you can keep accessing corp cards, you get to turn 1 into 1 card draw at the start of every turn.
- The first time you do this, you get a bonus of 2.
- If you ever stop accessing cards, all this goodness stops, and you go back to being boring until you get some more card access. (But you do get the 2 startup bonus again!)
Or, the REALLY simplified version is, Hoshiko is an alternate take on MaxX: Maximum Punk Rock - She gives you clickless card draw every turn, but at a cost. Hoshiko's cost is different (1 instead of milling 2 cards), but she also has to keep running to keep it going as well. This might seem like I'm being overly reductive, but as someone who played a fair bit of MaxX, Hoshiko felt very familiar.
So let's talk about the specifics, and why Hoshiko is so great.
First, there's the upgrades Hoshiko gets when she's in her virtual magical girl form: One of these is obvious - she's got an extra 1 when she's flipped. But the other one is more subtle - she gains the Digital keyword, which is not on a whole lot of runners. (I think Apex might be the only other one?) Digital is neat because it lets her (And Apex!) make extremely good use of DreamNet. (Which, to be fair, is obviously a card designed with her in mind.)
These are nice. But the real power in her ability is from the ability to get a constant stream of cards without spending clicks. This gives you a huge amount of tempo. Yes, it costs her credits instead, and yes, when evaluating cards, we often assume that 1 is roughly equivalent to 1 card. But they're only roughly equivalent. Cards are still usually better. Runners are super good at getting credits, and only mostly good at drawing cards.
Or, to put this another way, Hoshiko lets you turn your efficient credit-gaining cards into efficient card-drawing, which is almost always a good deal.
Or, to put this another way, if you fill a Hoshiko deck with cards to gain credits cheaply, you'll have plenty of credits AND cards.
So, given that - what's the best strategy for Hoshiko?
After playing with it a bit, I think that ultimately, Hoshiko's goal should be to try to stay flipped as much as possible, and stay rich enough to afford it. And then just ride the crazy tempo she generates to outspeed the corp. There's also probably an argument to be made for running every other turn, and flipping as much as possible, for fewer card draws and more free credits, but I'm not convinced that this is really worth it, since then you lose out on things like DreamNet.
So if you want to access cards once per turn so you can stay flipped, that has a few implications for deckbuilding. Overall, I've had the best luck building for Hoshiko when I build around cards that give extra benefits to successful runs, but don't replace card access. So for example, Dirty Laundry is excellent, but Security Testing is less so, because it doesn't help keep you in magical girl mode.
So Dirty Laundry is great. Bravado is also great, but a bit expensive on influence. Red Team is another excellent Hoshiko card. Overclock doesn't give you money directly, but might as well be a clickless Sure Gamble, any time you're starting a run that you know will cost at least 5. Leech is not technically credits, but it might as well be, given how much cheaper it can make your runs.
Drip economy is also good. DreamNet is obviously built for her, and probably belongs in any Hoshiko deck I can think of. She has a pretty cool console too, in Keiko. It doesn't directly tie into her abilities, but it has the potential to generate a lot of credits, without having to spend time clicking for them. (As long as you include some companions in your deck at least!) This is not a huge burden, since they generate a lot of passive income themselves. Paladin Poemu, Trickster Taka, Mystic Maemi and Fencer Fueno are all good sources of drip econ in their own right, as long as you have something to spend them on. Which you should, if you keep running and drawing cards.
As with most runners, Hoshiko also wants multiaccess, to provide threat against centrals. Here things get a little weird, since the default Anarch solution, Stargate, does not play super-well with Hoshiko's ability. It doesn't allow you to access cards. I've actually had better luck importing The Maker's Eye. The new Jailbreak card is also excellent here - even if it's only +1 card access, it more than makes up for that with the zero cost and free card-draw.
What else. Icebreakers? I don't really have any strong opinions about icebreakers for Hoshiko, other than Odore is amazing, if you go the virtual companion route. (It also plays very nicely with Leech!)
Overall, I've found Hoshiko to be a lot of fun to play. Her ability feels strong enough to be viable. (She's definitely viable in startup. I assume she can do okay in standard as well.) Her theme is unique. And her mechanics are great because they encourage you to always be running. And really, at the end of the day, isn't that what Netrunner is all about?