Writing this from the runner's side... as someone who has had the misfortune of playing against it...

So. I'm going to point out the obvious here... This is a baked in Bandwidth, only without risk of getting broken. This card turns on all those conditional pieces of ICE that NBN love, but are inconsistent... Data Ward and Pachinko being the two that most notably come to mind (UCF has rotated, fortunately). That fact alone made this ID very difficult to deal with. No longer does NBN require these pieces to be positional. Throw a Data Ward in front of your remote, and a Pachinko on your centrals and watch as it will always be cheaper for you to Rez these ICE than it will for me to crack it. Even with Clippy.

And that fact alone, being able to use some of NBNs best pieces of ICE without any further setup, makes me want to grab whatever table I'm playing on and just eat it, cards and all.

"But Drakeheart," your anonymous voice calls out, "It's only the outermost, and one piece of ICE isn't going to keep runners out forever. That's what Bypass is for!"

And this is true. There are a lot of options to fight a deck that only uses a couple pieces of ICE to protect a server. But I wasn't prepared for this ID. And thus, I suffered. Maybe this is me learning how to be a better runner... But this ID made it a sore lesson to learn.

This is one of those ideas that are strong but not terribly consistent. They fold hard to certain match ups and bad draw, more so than other cotps.

But once in a blue moon they face an unequipped runner and then have a field day

Its an interesting balance mechanic to make the ID ability work on the OUTERMOST piece of ice. That being the normally least likely position you would find tag-conditional ice. It also still requires the corp to play ice positionally, albeit in reverse of normal order. But with the main tag-conditional ice being "end the run" barriers, it means that once the runner get past that first layer of ice, you'll need another method of stopping them, which NBN is notoriously short on. It balances an otherwise very strong ID ability well. You'll also have to build your servers up strong before capping them with a tag conditional piece of ice. If you need to add more ice, it may render your Id ability inert on that server. Very interesting design space.

This card... I have questions. Maybe it's not as strong as I think it is. Maybe I should actually use it before posting this review. Maybe I should do a lot of things.

False Flag is unlike any other Advancement Ambush Asset in that it forces the runner to address the threat. Unlike Cerebral Overwriter, Ghost Branch, Neurostasis, or Plan B, which hinge on the Runner actually accessing them, False Flag becomes a 3 Point Agenda.

If we ignore that absolutely massive contingency, False Flag is a worse Ghost Branch. The 2- cost is negligible. 1 tag for every 2 advancement tokens is much less punishing. BUT. If the runner never triggers it. If you build this in a server out of reach from the runner, then you just spent the same amount of effort for a Government Takeover in order to score an agenda that the runner can't steal, and is punished for even trying.

That's it. That's the card. A 9/3 Agenda that reads "The runner cannot steal or host this, and gains tags after trying. The runner can pay 2 to trash this." The latter half of that sentence is the insulting part, because they WILL trash this.

Bonus points for on-point fluff.

I am curious why you think this is a 9/3? In my mind 7 times advance plus a click to pop it equals a 8/3?

Reviewing a card without playing it at least once is asking to be criticized. But the comparison to Ghost Branch doesn't work. Similar to Gene Splicer, this card puts a Runner in a lose-lose scenario. You access it and you die by murder or you don't access it and you lose by points. If you're worried about speed with an 8/3, this is the faction with Dedication Ceremony - they'll be fine. While you're at 4+ points, this is a great way to pressure a Runner.

@Aterriblesound 7 to advance, plus 2 to rez. @BlackCherries, I suppose that's my frustration with it. The only downside is investment cost, but for an asset that forces the Runner to address it and lose or ignore it and lose, it seems stupidly strong.

Well, i tell you what: put this card in your Weyland deck and give it the old try. I would be surprised if you come away from these games with the opinion that the card is, in your own words, 'stupidly strong'. It can be used as an effective tool in some situations but in my opinion it is nowhere near the top.

"Maybe I should actually use it before posting this review." Huh. You were so close, too.

Two words: Face. Splat.

At 2 Strength for 5, Saisentan is an expensive rez, even among other Sentries. It's closest companion is Neural Katana which is 1 more strength, for 1 less to rez, though 2 fewer subroutines. And that difference in subroutines makes all the difference. If Sensei-tan didn't have it's Encounter power, then it's a question of Strength cost vs Break cost

Some notable examples include:

Mimic breaks Katana for 1, vs 3 for Sai-sentence.

GS Shrike M2 breaks both for 4.

Ika breaks Katana for 3 vs 2 for Caeser-Ten; assuming already hosting.

Shiv actually has an easier time with Sailly-senten, requiring only a couple fellow breakers, or even fewer with a bit of boosting to crack all three subs.

The summary is that the credit tax to the runner is roughly the same, favoring Sentai-san only where breaking is more taxing than boosting, typically with static breakers; though I'll leave an in-depth comparison as an exercise for the reader...

But there's a wrinkle in all this I mentioned earlier. Thaisentan isn't actually JUST 3 Net damage. If allowed to fully fire, this card will land up to 6 Net damage. SIX. Realistically, it'll probably only land 4. Only.

Which brings me around to my initial two words. If you can pay for the rez cost, this cards puts an unprepared runner to well within flat-line range. In-Faction, this is a dangerous little Sentry, with a premium price to pay for it's premium package, and at three influence, it's probably not going to see use outside Jinteki, though a few of you will probably prove me wrong.

All this being said, is it worth the slot? From me, it gets a firm Maybe. It's ability and subroutines make it physically painful to move through, and while it's always going to be cheaper for the Runner to crack than for the Corp to rez, it makes an excellent face-blender in the early game. If you can afford the cost early enough to make it worth it, much like another high-rez-to-low-strength Sentry... Well, you're probably not looking to win by scoring.

Great review. I'd love a comparison to Cortex Lock, which is a lot more relevant for today's meta, but this review highlights Saisentan's pros/cons really well.

Imagine this thing with Prāna Condenser...

World's Worst Brain Freeze is another comparable piece of ICE. On it's own, C-Lock is probably one of the best pieces of thorny ICE. At 4 Str with only a 2<span class="icon icon-credit"></span> Rez cost, it's an absolute steal, and significantly cheaper to Rez, and much harder to Break than Saisentan. Interestingly, these two pieces of ICE do almost the same thing, or at least, operate on the same level. Both are ICE you want to rez early enough to be useful, both have the potential to do a lot of Net damage; and as a result of these two things, they occupy the same sort of game space. Only Cortex Lock is infinitely more forgiving on the Corp's bank. So when is Cortex Lock more useful than Saisentan? When the Corp's poor. Thanks for coming- What? You need more? Fine. Cortex Lock is useful really only once. It hurts a little less than Saisentan when you stick your face against it, and afterwards the runner gets to decide how dangerous C-Lock is. More programs = less Memory = Less damage; Runners can equip themselves accordingly, with the potential of just walking through entirely. However, a runner will always need to address the damage done by Saisentan, and as such, will either always choose to break, or try and bypass it. Break-cost of Cortex vs Sai is comparable to my earlier comparison, only now swung much more heavily in Cortex's favor, both due to the higher strength, and it's low rez cost. TL;DR: Saisentan is a feisty little Sentry loaded for bear, but wants you to pay for the cost of all it's ammo. It's something a Runner will need to take measures to address.

There is an irony to this card in the current meta.

The two most obvious choices to throw behind this card are Spiderweb & Hive. But I do not believe these are the best options. The fine print here is "...at least 1 subroutine." Meaning if the breaker being used can break more than a single sub with each pump, it might just be easier to let the subs fire and keep moving.

Popular examples of Breakers that can break more than one subroutine include Who Thought This Was a Good Idea, a weasel, a tank, and the Stealth AI. Most of these cards only pay an extra 2 credits to do their jobs, instead of [Number of Subs] x 2.

Compare that to the fact it costs about 4 credits for more popular decoders such as Gordian Blade, Abagnale, Inversificator... Refractor breaks for 2 + 1 Stealth, and you realise it's cheaper to just let it fire than to try and break it. So let's try and do something that will force the Runner to find an answer to it.

Now, as Paperclip is incredibly popular at the moment, is there any multi-sub ICE that AREN'T Barriers, that can have more than a few subroutines? There are a few options we have: Woodcutter, Komainu, Ireress, and Fairchild. Two of those are already amazing to begin with, but two of those are also lacklustre otherwise. In particular, I feel that Interrupt 0 would work very well with Ireress, as it not only offsets the free credits from your Bad Publicity, but forces the runner to pay on top of that. However, a 5-sub Komainu, or Fairchild, behind an Interrupt 0 would be a genuine pain to deal with.

But ICE isn't our only solution, Chief Slee forces the runner to respond, paying the money to break it, or suffer.

I'm sure there a number of other points I've missed, but those are the ones that have come up the most in my experience.

Fair warning, Woodcutter and Ireress have both rotated for competitive netrunner now. Another janky non-barrier piece of ice with the potential for a lot of subs is Tour Guide, though I have no idea what a deck that needs a lot of assets and stacked Ice would look like. —

It is my belief that Maven is a greatly under appreciated card, especially for Shapers.

The first thing to note is that it is +1 strength for each PROGRAM, this includes itself. This means that things like Datasucker, Medium, Au Revoir, & Multithreader will all increase this card's strength. You could, theoretically, run this as your only Icebreaker, and simply load up on utility programs.

Some obvious synergies around this style...
Datasucker and/or Medium. Medium for multi-access; Datasucker for lowering ICE strength (effectively +2 to strength, if not practically).
Multithreader both increases Maven's strength AND helps to pay for breaking subroutines. 3 of these will mean your Maven is now effectively a strength 4 with 0: Break up to three ice subroutines (again, not practically, but close enough). Not too dissimilar from certain card we know, only useful on more than Code Gates.

The problem behind all of this is, of course, the memory cost. The multithreader combo in particular means a minimum of 5MU. This means finding ways of hosting cards that absolve you of memory costs... Like more programs: Leprechaun, Dhegdheer, Djinn, etc... And maybe while you're saving on memory you can earn some with Data Folding.

Here's the thing... The real issue isn't memory or credits. There are real solutions to these problems.

The issue is time. Time is always against the Runner. Time to get the cards out to make Maven work. It's a problem that has always existed with big rigs, and is the balance in power.

So would I recommend Maven? Well.... Even with everything I've described, I don't think it'll win any tournaments. But it's not a hopeless card, and in a deck well-prepared for it, it could turn a few heads.

Honorable Mention: It's an AI, subject to all the hate an AI receives from ICE.

:cough: Medium is no more :cough: —
Running an AI as your only breaker is dangerous. Swordsman survives, as do Hortum and Turing. Be careful! —
I do think you can do Maven as primary with support breakers. It's pretty strong - like an unpurgeable Aumakua. —