I did a Chrysalid Matrix review many, many years ago when the cards were new. After reading some brief recaps of tournament games at runners-net.com, I decided it was time to write another. Skipper Pickle has revised many cards and discarded a few. The Classic expansion cards have arrived since my last review. And my work with Dangerous Allies has given me some recent experience with consolidating card text, which has been a chief problem with Chrysalid Matrix from the beginning.
In addition to my review of each card, I've prepared an edited spoiler list with my wording revisions. My main goal was to reduce the amount of text on the longer cards. I also tried to address too-weak and too-strong cards. I cannot emphasize enough that this edit was not requested by Skipper and was done without his permission or consent. It's just my personal ideas for improving the cards.
The card texts are availble in Skipper's data fort. Unfortunately they are in Flash format. I am guessing this format ensures uniform printing size. This is great for using the cards, but not so easy for editing and searching. I hijacked a program which extracts the text from Flash files, and then created a spoiler list in rich text format (RTF).
To get much from this review, you will want to open copies of both lists. You can look at Skipper's card text and my revisions as you read my comments for each card. The review will not make too much sense unless you make this effort, but it's well worth the effort. No, really.
The set has a deep back-story. Some of the characters are well-defined in the flavor text, which is no small feat with only 72 cards. The details are interesting, but obviously a set of trading cards is not a good format for anything linear - and good stories are usually linear to some degree.
The set is too small. It's half the size of Proteus, and it feels like a snack instead of a meal. Many of the cards are complex, which helps compensate. But without the simpler cards to fill out the set, Chrysalid Matrix sometimes feels like a set of gimmicks without a lot of substance.
There are several problem cards. The worst have been discarded by Skipper, which is very commendable. A few still remain. A few cards are nearly worthless, which is never pleasant. In a 72 cards set, it's especially painful.
Many of the card texts are much too long. This is a problem for two reasons. The first reason is that Chrysalid Matrix is intended to be used in meatspace. There's simply no room for illustrations on many of the cards. With Photoshop and the like, it's quite possible to create a convincing Netrunner card in 2008 - something that was not so easily accomplished when this set was written.
The second reason is that card text lengths correlate nicely to card complexity. Sometimes it's just an issue of wording, but not always. The few cards in the set with "normal" text lengths really stand out. Complexity is a good thing, in general, because it piques our interest and holds our attention. But a Rube Goldberg machine is complex, too. It's just not useful. Chrysalid Matrix makes this mistake on occasion.
Tenebrum Roundhouse Two decks is a garage, not a roundhouse. More decks! I like the idea of this card a lot. It's interesting and fun. But there are some issues.
The first is that Skipper had to skirt the rules. He says that the face-down deck is "out of play" by fiat. But it's clearly not. If there's a Power Grid Overload and the Roundhouse is trashed, do the decks it was holding go to the trash too? Even though one of them wasn't even in play?
Calling a face-down card "out of play" is confusing. Hidden Resources are in play, so is unrezzed ice. "Out of play" means, "Not installed." A better mechanic for the Roundhouse considers the face-down deck as "trashed" instead of "out of play". This also allows some nice effects with Junkyard BBS and similar cards.
The text is much, much too long. Including flavor text, it's 452 characters. Rewording and eliminating the flavor text got it down to 232.
Despite the very cool idea of this card, I doubt it will show up in many stacks. Perhaps the reduced installation cost will make some of the larger, more capable decks attractive.
Tenebrum Jukebox The cost of this card makes it useless. I can install two ZetaTech Mem Chips for this price and get an additional 4 MU. Burying four programs on the Jukebox just means a lot of actions getting to a particular card, or a lot of turns waiting for it to come around. And if I'm not going to install more than three programs, why did I install the Jukebox in the first place?
This card could be attractive if it reduced the cost of installing programs and didn't automatically change the active program each turn (unless I pay). Another huge problem is that the card can't hold icebreakers. This is a real missed opportunity for getting Dogcatcher and Flak into constructed stacks.
Skipper has the same rules issues with this card (see above). He doesn't go into any detail on this card about the status of the non-active programs, which is really inconsistent with the Roundhouse.
The card is 411 characters, which are too many. After making it interesting and playable as compared to Afreet and Tycho Mem Chip, the length was reduced to 232 characters.
Tenebrum Sidecar This is a good deck with a lot of variety in its effects. The game flavor of a shared deck is very interesting, I would have liked to see that flavor made more explicit in the subroutines. The Fall Guy-style premise is funny.
This deck is a WuTech Mem Chip, a Full-Body Conversion, and a Skullcap all in one. Trashing a connection is a high price for a yarmulke, though. Those cards together would cost only 1 bit, but the "cost" of getting a card in hand is somewhere north of two bits. Even at 2.5 bits per card, The Sidecar cashes in at 9.5 bits while the superior three-card combination above costs 8.5. That includes finding and installing the cards.
Designing useful decks is a huge challenge because WotC did it so badly. The designer either drops the installation cost to something reasonable, or invents new effects which haven't been seen yet. Both methods have pitfalls.
This is a good and interesting card, but I wouldn't use it in a constructed deck. I would play with it in sealed deck but the price is very high for sealed deck games. Hrm.
The text is 253 characters, svelte and sexy! 341 with flavor text. I didn't change a word.
Tenebrum Runabout At this point, it's clear that Tenebrum is dominating this expansion of only 72 cards, since they manufactured the first four. Spreading around a few different company names would make the set more interesting.
This deck is terrible. It gets one stealth bit (albeit per run) which is too prissy for my Piledriver, and it gets +1 MU. That's it! For six bits of installation cost. This is probably the perfect price by the standard of official cards, but it's a crap price just the same. I would certainly prefer to have a Corolla Speed Chip and a WuTech Mem Chip with no restrictions and no "all eggs in one basket" problem. Each of those cards costs one bit to install, for a grand total of seven bits when the "opportunity cost" of a card-in-hand is 2.5 bits (see above). The Runabout clocks in at a porky 8.5 bits. That's only one bit less than the Sidecar and the Runabout is about half as useful.
"But how often do we make multiple runs in a single turn, which do not use noisy icebreakers?"
I am guessing that the one stealth bit "per run" is supposed to be more attractive than the "per turn" of other cards. But how often do we make multiple runs in a single turn, which do not use noisy icebreakers? Ignore the start of the game where we don't use any icebreakers.
Netrunner really needs attractive decks. They are essential cyberpunk gear, yet they are impractical in the cyberpunk CCG. Only Bodyweight Data Creche and sometimes The Deck really get considered. Runabout is another step in the wrong direction.
This card is a silly 505 characters. I beefed it up and trimmed it down to 320 characters.
Surge Suppressor This very interesting card has a new keyword, "overwrite". This is a very bad choice for a hardware card, because "overwrite" is a software word. The idea of this card is interesting, but this particular implementation is not powerful.
The idea might be that the card absorbs some hideous amount of Net damage, saving your life or your hand, or both. Then on a later action in the same turn, you install a NEW Surge Suppressor, "overwriting" the old one. This avoids the damage at the end of the turn. Again, "overwrite" is something we do with programs, both in real life and in Netrunner. Overwriting hardware makes no sense.
The card title is also bad. Who would buy a surge suppresor if it only DELAYED the destruction of our valuable electronics during a lightning strike? Yet this is the premise of the card.
It's not clear why the keyword "overwrite" was introduced when the keyword "unique" would have accomplished exactly the same thing. Maybe a hint to players? The card has no installation cost, so maybe it comes into play under secret, unspecified rules? Where do I find these rules? Very poor design and implementation with this card.
Despite the 1 MU requirement, I would still prefer a Skullcap by a wide margin. Extra MU is good for all your programs. An extra and necessary Surge Suppressor is only useful for "overwriting" the first Surge Suppressor.
I would be shocked if anyone used this card in the current environment. The odds of getting two copies in sealed are extremely low. That's assuming anyone knows how to play it.
The character count is 345. After my extensive revision, the count is 197.
Hardwired Customization The boilerplate text for "unique" cards has been omitted on this card, a glaring editing error.
This card is a slightly undercosted. Consider Wilson, Preying Mantis, Bargain with Viacox, All-Nighter, and especially Bodyweight Data Creche in comparison.
Friend of a Friend of a Friend This one makes me think. Just when I think I can see a first-turn win, it doesn't work out. In fact, after much consideration, I think this is very slightly worse than Mantis, Fixer-At-Large. But not a lot. You get to put the connection in play for up to 3 actions, then it it goes to your hand, exactly like Mantis.
In my opinion, those three actions could be helpful, but digging the stack exclusively for a connection is a serious limitation, depending on when this card shows up in my hand.
Lowering the play cost to (0) makes it a much more interesting possibility for finding connections like Preying Mantis and Crash Everett.
Insider Trading A truly strange card which must be an attempt to punish those Corporations with Tycho Extensions. With that card effectively banned, this "anti-card" is mostly useless.
Such specific anti-cards are a bad idea in any case. Netrunner has no sideboards and that makes deck design more difficult. There simply isn't room to include a copy of every specific trick for a specific situation which will probably not occur in a particular game.
My solution for this issue is to give each anti-card two effecs - a specific one and a general one. This card is missing the general effect, and thus ends up as a very impractical version of Silver Lining Recovery Protocol for the Runner.
Recombinant Source Code Is the idea to form a pyramid of Afreets and Imps, then sell it back for expensive programs? The idea of trashing two programs to find and install a new one is interesting. Maybe this is the final destination of Zetatech Software Installers?
The real point here is that this card is extremely specific and doesn't make sense in 99 percent of stacks. In sealed play, it's slightly better, but only slightly. It combines the effect of a Temple Microcode Outlet, the aforementioned Zetatech Software Installer, and a much weaker Self-Modifying Code. What stack needs both Temple Microcode Outlet and Self-Modifyig Code? None that I know about.
Why is this card a prep instead of a program? That's a serious editing oversight. So is shuffling the stack twice. It clearly only needs to be shuffled once.
My version is much more flexible and slightly more powerful, but even then I'm not sure it will see widespread use. Maybe in Clown stacks?
Vid Rights A truly horrible way to make money. Giving the Corp a Bad Publicity point is not particularly simple. Trading it and a card for three bits is a very bad trade. This is a card which will never be used, even in Bad Publicity stacks.
If the Runner has managed to give the Corp at least four Bad Publicity points (equivalent to a Loan from Chiba) and the Runner is about to win via agenda points, then this card makes sense. That doesn't happen often enough to justify this card.
The game concept of the card is also broken. Why would a Corp improve its reputation when a stim producer buys rights to a scandalous story from a Runner?
Requisition Form Rebuild A crippled card. The specific requirements and restrictions make it pale in comparison to the lowly Hunt Club BBS. I wouldn't use it in a constructed deck if its cost was zero bits. Requiring a run on the Archives and requiring all five cards to be in different forts is ridiculously constraining.
What You Don't Know This card is well-considered. It's brief, direct, and clear. This is the flagship card in Chrysalid Matrix for good design. My only criticism is that it should cost 2 bits. Early Runners are likely to simply bounce off mystery ice, rather than spend bits and cards to expose it. Later Runners have more bits, and it's likely that forts have more ice to expose.
Still, a great card in every way.
Sympathetic Vibrations Another extremely narrow and complicated card. The effect is highly suspect and the cost of a successful run on HQ is quite high. This card is useless in sealed deck, and even in constructed play it has very limited value. Good deck designers don't use too many duplicates of the same ice cards.
This is an anti-card for a problem which doesn't exist. Even if a Corp plays with nothing but Haunting Inquisition, the ice card is balanced. And I definitely don't want to punish the Corp for trying a cool, interesting strategy with Chihuahuas and Minotaurs.
AI Template So I spend zero bits to lay out a construct template, then feed one of my resources into the template, creating an AI. Then the AI allows me to pass a piece of ice, while being permanently erased in the process.
This is far too complicated in concept. It's a whole story on one card, with a few gaping holes in motivation. Why would the new construct, which was tricked out of its meatspace life, suicide for me? How did I accomplish this master plan with free software?
Also, the card should require a connection as a cost, not any resource. Smith's Pawn Shop or the Junkyard BBS cannot become an AI.
This card is much too powerful for constructed play. My ancient Short Stack took at least 5 turns to set up. With AI Template, I can reduce that to 3 turns. It's probably very balanced for sealed play.
My revised card goes in a totally different direction but is thematically sound and balanced for both constructed and sealed play.
Infinity Jest You can still liberate agenda. That's all you really need to know. It's twice the MU of a Clown but only 75% of the cost of two Clowns. The mechanics of the Clown Car stack make this a superior choice. It would be nice to see Bozomatic as a top stack design, so I applaud this card.
The name is bizarre, I have no idea where it comes from.
The only niggle with this card is that it attemps to override the effects of other cards, like Romp Through HQ, with excessive verbage. I think this verbage (and its effect) can be eliminated without unbalancing the card. Otherwise, it becomes a spiral of contradiction. A newer card might read:
You may trash any of the Corp's cards, even if an effect would normally not allow you to trash cards that another effect would normally allow you to trash.
It's best to stop this train before it gets rolling.
Here's an example of a Bozomatic plan using Infinity Jest.
TURN 1: A1: Jack n' Joe A2: Jack n' Joe A3: Jack n' Joe A4: Valu-Pak Software Bundle A4.1: Install Afreet 1 A4.2: Install Zetatech Software Installer in Afreet 1 A4.3: Install Afreet 2 A4.4: Install Zetatech Software Installer In Afreet 2 A4.5: Install Afreet 3 5 cards in hand, 4 bits TURN 2: A1: Jack n' Joe A2: Jack n' Joe A3: Jack 'n Joe 11 cards in hand, 4 bits A4: Valu-Pak Software Bundle A4.1: Install Zetatech Software Installer in Afreet 3 A4.2: Install Zetatech Software Installer in Afreet 3 A4.3: Install Zetatech Software Installer in Afreet 3 A4.4: Install Infinity Jest in Afreet 1 A4.5: Install Infinity Jest in Afreet 2 5 cards in hand, 3 bits TURN 3: A1: Jack 'n Joe A2: Jack 'n Joe A3: Jack 'n Joe 11 cards, 3 bits I've now drawn half my stack. A4: Valu-Pak Software Bundle A4.1: Install Succubus A4.2: Install Wildcard in Succubus A4.3: Install Codecracker in Succubus A4.4: Install Jackhammer in Succubus A4.5: install Infinity Jest in Afreet 3, overwriting two Zetatech Software Installers 5 cards, 3 bits
The kit is complete, I can run almost anywhere for free. I still need some protection and a plan for winning quickly, that will be installed when possible or necessary. It will include a Joan of Arc, an Emergency Self-Construct, two Highlighters and a Microtech AI Interface. This will require one more Afreet.
I can't trash cards, so I don't need a Newsgroup Filter.
Diagnostic Agent A very cool and interesting program! Well-balanced and designed. I didn't change a thing.
Muzzle-to-Puzzle Another interesting and cool card. Well suited to either constructed or sealed play. The word "immediately" should be included. I slightly changed the card by allowing it to convert the generic Chrysalid Matrix ice (not a wall, sentry, or code gate) into code gates. This is a minor revision that brings some balance to the set. Another slight change is that the morphed ice retains its original keyword, if any.
Rainmaker I like the idea of this card very much, but the cost to increase strength is prohibitive. It's also needlessly wordy. I addressed these issues in my revision.
Dumpster Cam This card is very interesting! I reduced the installation cost to make it more attractive. I also lowered the requirements so that only two Cam counters cause the effect. Even with these improvements, the card is strictly appropriate for sealed deck play, and might not see much use there.
Martyr A very odd combination of powers for this program. This will definitely be used in sealed deck games, but it's highly unlikely to be used in constructed play. The installation cost is too high. Compare to Raptor. The prevention effects are a little unwieldy as a group. Most players would rather install two Highlighters and a Raptor and relegate the prevention effects to separate cards.
Looking Glass A very, very interesting idea and cool card. The stealth limitation is huge. There simply aren't enough economical sources of stealth bits to make this really powerful. Alternately, the stealth bits on this card could be replaced at the start of each run, instead of each turn. It's difficult to balance a potentially powerful card like this.
It could be part of a very interesting constructed deck in the tradition of Bozomatic. The high installation cost is also a problem. It's wordy because of the boilerplate stealth text. 451 characters are too many.
One Hand Clapping Hiliarious flavor text! The idea for the card is very good, this is a welcome addition to the game. The balance between the subroutine cost of two bits and the integral three bits is problematic, as intended. Because of the difficulty of installing a lot of Cloaks, I lowered the installation cost of this card. I changed the integral bits so that they are replaced at the start of each run. I also trimmed the boilerplate stealth text.
Patience A very good and interesting card idea. Once the card gets started, it could be quite powerful. Unfortunately, the costs for the subroutines are too high to get started.
Another problem with this card is that it's yet another generic icebreaker. In general, these make the game much less interesting. The varieties of ice become irrelevant, and strategy and tactics are diminished. There's not a single wall or code gate breaker in Chrysalid Matrix, which is a big gap. I won't repair this fundamental shortcoming, but Skipper should. He could replace three or four of the generic breakers with specific ones, or simply add the specific ones to the set. I think that three generic breakers are plenty for a 72 card set. There are only four generic breakers in the entire Limited Edition, which contains several hundred cards.
This is a difficult card to balance properly, but a slight reduction in subroutine costs should do the trick. See my revision.
Snowball in Beta A very interesting idea which is slightly more complicated than it needs to be. With the accumulation of Stealth bits removed, and the installation cost lowered, the card becomes playable in sealed deck.
With the extraneous verbage, the card text is a ridiculous 473 characters. My revised version is 254 characters.
Private Kelp Tank It's certainly much better than Silicon Saloon Franchise, but that's hardly a measuring stick. I can find no rationale for trashing the card if another resource gets trashed. This is a bizarre penalty which I cannot understand thematically or tactically. The tagging mechanism of Netrunner is very appropriate for wiping out a Runner's kelp farms.
It's hard to imagine a constructed deck using this as a source of bits, but perhaps it's a strong primer for the hated Saloon Franchise? The biggest problem is that only one Kelp Tank can be installed per action. Four actions for four Kelp tanks averages two bits per turn, which is the same as one Top Runners' Conference (although you can run with the Kelp Tank farm in place).
It really doesn't make sense in constructed play. In sealed deck, this is a great card. One action for a half-bit per turn is helpful in sealed deck.
I rebuilt the entire card to make it more attractive. The theme is the same but the mechanics are completely different. With only 72 cards in the set, there shouldn't be any true losers for constructed play. See my revision for the specifics.
Madame Rousseau's House of Constructs The title is absurdly long, it will never fit on a card. The card is interesting but no one in their right minds would actually install it. Roll a "1" and it could easily be Game Over. Gaining a bit for a lucky die roll is attractive, but who would risk a game loss for one bit?
The timing of the die roll is problematic. Do I roll the die before or after the Corp commits its tracing bits? The card must specify this detail. I added a subroutine to make the card less catastrophic, and I lowered the installation cost to make it more attractive. I removed the bit-gaining ability because it makes no thematic sense and bloats the length of the card text.
I also shortened the title, which is far too long to fit on a properly formatted card. The original weighs in at a too-hefty 450 characters, i trimmed it to 288.
Aubrey, Apprentice Cowboy The word "apprentice" is very overused in these card titles. "Joeboy" is good, "Wilson" is good. Yet they are never used as adjectives here. Everyone's an apprentice, which makes the Runner's life sound like a union job.
The mechanics of this card are needlessly convoluted. It's also two totally different mechanics mixed on one card. Is this card Bodyweight Data Creche, or is it Rigged Investments? The text is surprisingly brief, but it's also difficult to decipher. Because this card is powerful and allows actions to be borrowed from future turns, it should almost certainly be unique.
A general theme of Chrysalid Matrix is giving the Runner extra runs. This needs to be limited in scope, as runs are the heart of the game. I've done this with all the "apprentice" cards by inserting the "End your turn" phrase into their effects. This eliminates the need for the "unique" keyword.
My revision trims the text from 337 to 236 characters.
Jane, Apprentice Cynic This card is a combination of three unrelated effects which are overpriced and crippled. The extra run requires trashing a resource (for no clear thematic reason) and the run is twice limited - only run an SDF and no accessed cards may be trashed. That's a crappy deal. You can also spend two bits and an action to look at everything in HQ, if you already made a successful run on HQ. The final effect is borrowed straight from Wilson, and is appropriate but not for this particular character. We presume the "cynic" would be extremely wary of becoming the Fall Guy.
How can this card cost more to install than Aubrey?
This card is a mess, one of the worst of the set. It's not broken, but it's also not useful. It's also a thematic disaster. I did a major overhaul in my revision, which reduced the card from a silly 433 characters to 289.
Markus, Apprentice Sysop This card is bad for so many different reasons. The cost is prohibitive, I can never afford to lower the strength of my icebreakers. Worse yet, there's little hope of recovering the lost strength later because the icebreaker is trashed if its strength is lower than zero.
Of course I can choose not to use Markus' subroutine, but why did I install him?
The subroutine allows me to run HQ or R&D, but if I access any ice, the Corp installs that ice for free on a fort of my choice. Archives is going to be well-protected. Is this good for me? It's not terrible but it's quite a price to pay. If the Corp happens to be able to move ice around with New Blood or whatever other card, I am totally screwed. Glacier is also going to hurt a lot.
In short, this card needs a total rewrite. It's just a terrible idea. Thematically, I do not understand why ice gets installed for free where Markus wants it installed. Is he really an apprentice? He seems like the reincarnation of Rache Bartmoss. Why does Markus cripple icebreakers? Why does he throw them away? I can't make any sense of it.
I presume that Markus is learning to work for a Corporation. Why is he installed on my side of the table? Also, Markus cannot steal any agenda or trash any nodes or upgrades. Who would take on a pupil with these problems?
The final straw is the card text, which is an obese 533 characters. This card is a train wreck. My revision is basically a new card, so perhaps it would be best to simply remove Markus from the game, match and set?
Mateo, Apprentice Incompetent Another title with far too many letters. I retitled the card.
The extra run provided by this card is incredibly bad. The card is better with it gone. That makes Mateo into a Silicon Saloon Franchise with half the cost and a trashing penalty. Or a Rigged Investments which never runs out. Why does Mateo do one brain damage when he is trashed? No one knows.
Why would I let Mateo work for me when I know he is going to wreck my hardware? The price is much too high. How is an incompetant joeboy making me a bit every turn? No one knows.
Again I had to practically start over from scratch. This card could be dumped from the set without ceremony.
Pug Underwood, Rogue Mechanic Another stupidly lengthy card title. The name is fine, there's no need for the appellation. I pruned accordingly.
The card is interesting and cool. I only altered the wording a bit to make it more concise.
Rusty, Apprentice Vandal As if the Wilson Memorial Academy (groan) would accept a student who wrecks the school. This card makes no sense thematically. Why does the vandal give me card-drawing power? Is he a vandal-fixer? At this point my thematic complaints about the apprentices are familiar.
Rusty can only run HQ or R&D, yet vandals would generally prey on subsidiary forts where the protection is weaker. The trashing makes perfect thematic sense! Finally some consistency.
Once again, I reworked this card significantly, chopping its 480 characters down to 331.
Lars Dali, Consumer Advocate Again the title is too long. Trimmed in my revision.
The cost is way too high. The card is useless in sealed play. It's an anti-card which has no other redeeming qualities. Even Psycho Tycho is barely slowed by this card. Simply a bad idea.
My revision adds effects and lowers the installation cost, while trimming the text.
Beta-of-the-Month Club Sadly underpowered. Not remotely competitive with Valu-Pak Software Bundle. It would be of limited value even in sealed deck matches. The possibility of returning an installed program to my hand is just adding insult to injury.
Powered-up in my revision. I added the "unique" keyword to balance my version.
Archive Storage Service This card has a cool effect, but there is one phrase which wrecks the whole thing. "and there are no cards in the Archives". What are the odds of that? Not terrible, but not great, either. This limitation is crippling, as the Runner has no reasonable way to get cards out of the Archives, and thus no way to use this dead card.
This card has the "unique" keyword but not the associated boilerplate text. This is a serious editing oversight.
This is clearly a virus program disguised as a Resource. The character of the game is wrecked when lines between card types are severely blurred.
This is very similar to Dumpster Cam, with more benefits and that crippling limitation. Balancing a card like this is very difficult. My revision is my best attempt. The original text is too long at 426 characters. I trimmed it to 118 characters.
Headmaster, Wilson Memorial Academy The title is absurdly long. I trimmed it.
Thematically, the card holds together very well. The concept behind these Headmaster and Apprentice cards is contrary to the cyberpunk genre, but this card fleshes out the mistake aptly.
The card is missing the boilerplate text for the "unique" keyword. This is a serious editing problem, which cannot be overcome because there's simply not enough space to include it.
I don't want a resource which gives me a tag every turn. What plan would include a card which the Corp can always trash for an action and 2 bits? Even with a Nasuko Cycle handy, this is too high a price. That's not good card design, even if it is thematically sound.
Gaining a bit for each installed connection is extremely powerful. Stacks based on Emergency Self-Construct and Preying Mantis will not need any other bit engine. That's probably too powerful. Likewise with something as simple as Broker. The text should clearly read "gain a bit at the start of each of your turns" not "at the start of each turn". That would be crazily overpowered.
The card text is a gargantuan 470 characters. My revision is 376 characters, but I changed the flavor text to create some space on the card for the boilerplate text.
Contingency Plans Storage Vault The title is stupidly long. We revised it. The text is 469 characters, which is absurd and unnecessary. The word "are" should be "is", a fundamental grammar mistake. The phrase "in your hand" should read "in HQ". The word "were" should be "was". Another basic grammar mistake. Truly poor editing.
There is a very basic problem here. We show the stored operations to the Runner, then store them face-down? What's the point? The Runner has seen all the operations, and can certainly write down their names, if desired. Not very well-considered.
This agenda needs a keyword. The default seems to be "Asset", which makes some sense for this card.
The effect of scoring this agenda is marginal at best. We reduced the difficulty to make it more attractive, and less of a burden in sealed deck games. Our revision is 303 characters.
Critical Path Maintenance Skip obviously understands that this is a very powerful effect, and balanced it with very severe costs. Our first thought was that no one would use this card because of those costs, but on further consideration, we think it's well-balanced. We will only use this effect when we really need to, and that's important.
We did remove the random discard from the cost, because one of the big attractions of this agenda is "setting up a combo". If we only need one more card to get a three- or four-card combo together, a random discard will almost certainly wreck that combo. This really reduces the appeal of this agenda.
We changed the discard to be non-random. We also lowered the difficulty by 1. The only other agenda with a 4/1 spread which we can remember is Detroit Police Contract, which is not a very good card. If it was 3/1, it would be a good card. We applied the same thinking to this Chrysalid Matrix agenda.
Project Metaframe This is a very interesting and well-balanced card.
Deus Ex Machina Probably the most controversial card in the set, and rightfully so. It strongly encourages the use of generic icebreakers, which makes the game less interesting. It also makes forts invulnerable for X turns, which is a stupidly powerful effect.
It's not easy to create game balance with a stupidly powerful effect. Our revision is our best attempt. Simply removing this card from the set would be a big step in the right direction.
The text is 447 characters, which is far too many. Our version is 198 characters.
Chinese Finger Puzzle Code gates do not damage software. That is the province of sentries. Blurring the lines between card types makes the game less interesting.
We rewrote the card with an effect which is appropriate for code gates.
The wording is painful, adding up to 422 characters. We trimmed it to 226 characters.
Turnstile This card is just wrong. The rez cost is ridiculously low for a card which punishes the Runner for succeeding in the most basic challenge of the game. Runners who feel a sense of moral outrage from this card are completely justified.
On the other hand, it strongly promotes the use of cards like Tesseract Fort Construction, Tutor and Lisa Blyte. Sadly, these only emphasize how overpowered this card can be. Even a simple Siren becomes a much larger problem behind a Turnstile.
Using multiple ice keywords is completely superfluous in this case. The card demonstrates none of the characteristic subroutines of a particular flavor of ice. Since a "turnstile" is conceptually closest to a wall, we've made that adjustment.
Hecate Yet another card which encourages the damaging use of generic icebreakers. This is not good for the game. We added a bit to the rez cost and lowered the strength because this looks exactly like π in the Face but has the huge additional power of making the Runner assemble a complete breaker suite.
Throughout the Corp cards, the text refers to "the Runner". This contradicts all existing Netrunner cards, which simply use "Runner" in the same context. We've edited all these errors but will not mention them again in this review.
Gargoyle This card was created before Glacier. It's very well-balanced considering what came later. The text is 450 characters, I trimmed it to 370.
Juniper Samurai This card is horribly broken. If we are "patched into Edgerunner's personnel database", why don't we just drop a Rock and stop messing around? Tags should mean something in this game, and this card says they do not. Edgerunner is a Corp client anyway, not a Runners' Conference.
It's impossible to repair this card. We've rewritten it. The name makes no sense to us at all, perhaps we're culturally deficient.
This might be the worst-designed card in the set.
Leech Do not give counters the same name as a card. Basic confusion avoidance.
We revised this card with only a single -1 strength counter and a permanent life. We also added appropriate keywords.
Perpetual Motion Machine This effect is extremely powerful. We're not sure how to balance it. An R&D filled with this ice and Filters would be almost impossible to beat.
Once again, Skipper has blurred the lines between the different roles of basic Netrunner card types. This takes a lot of character out of the game. Our revision attempts to address this problem in an innovative but fair way.
This card should clearly be a code gate, it's doing nothing remotely close to a valid sentry.
Little Blinking Light Compared to Banpei, it's actually too expensive by at least one bit. A very dangerous ice in the middle game. If it's rezzed too early, the Runner won't have any icebreakers installed. If it's rezzed too late, the routine will be easily broken. Strategic.
Accounting Firewall Perhaps the odd order of the subroutines is supposed to reflect the inexperience of the ice's author?
The rez cost is wildly low. Not sure what Skip was thinking here. We've adjusted it to reflect the power of this card and balance with other walls.
Acid Wall This card is very far from what a wall should do. Walls do not degrade icebreakers. The rare wall does some damage, but not to software. That's the province of sentries. Blurring the lines between card types makes the game less fun.
We rewrote the card to reflect a wall's ability to do damage, a la Razor Wire.
Voicemail A truly great card idea, with great flavor text which is unfortunately too long.
"A random fort" is a huge mechanical problem. Do we have a five-sided die handy? Clearly a different mechanic is called for here. The balance and cost are bad because very few Runners will play a Bad Publicity stack. This means the we can install six powerful Voicemails without any worries at all.
Exacerbating the rock-paper-scissors aspect is bad for the game.
Ironically, by boosting the penalty to 2 Bad Publicity points, the card becomes more limiting. 3 is even better. We adjusted the card accordingly, see our revision.
Interleaved Data Integrity A very long title which we revised.
This card is wildly overpowered in multiples. Compare to New Galveston City Grid. An even mix of Annual Reviews, Edgerunner, Inc. Temps, Accounts Receivable, Newsgroup Tauntings and this card makes the Corp invincible. No ice necessary.
Not good. It's hard to know how to revise this card, with New Galveston already in use. We did our best.
Bride of Krumz A funny and perhaps too-silly idea for a card title. The concept is great but can be made even stronger without unbalancing this card. See our revision.
A Fist in the Jar In general, it's a bad idea for card effects to linger after the card leaves play. This card is guilty of that design problem. Adding a counter to the mechanics creates a reminder of the effect.
It's really nothing more than a free Siren, which must be primed by being trashed.
This card is fairly well-balanced and thought out, with the exception noted above. The "Ambush" keyword is odd here because it's the only Ambush which needs to be rezzed to take effect. Siren must be rezzed to work, and has no extra keywords.
Most unique Corp cards must be rezzed when they are installed. It's a very good idea here, as well. Unfortunately that spoils the whole idea of the card. This is a fundamental mechanical problem, the card cannot be rezzed without breaking it, and it must be unique as well. These is no easy or clear solution.
We converted the card to an Upgrade to facilitate strategy. We added the counter mechanism for clarity. We made the card non-unique but not better in multiples.We jacked up the rez cost to balance this powerful effect.
The original text was 393 characters, we cut that to 333.
Lobe Yank Not particularly powerful in sealed deck, but a fun and interesting card. It also suffers the design problem of having an effect which lasts for a short time after it leaves play. we adjusted the text to solve this problem.
Tangled Web The Net damage version of Yobe Lank. This set is too small to have such minor card variations included. Why is the normal ratio of 2 Net/1 brain damage avoided here? This makes TRAP! more questionable. We adjusted this card as per Lobe Yank.
Targeted Obsolescence An interesting and powerful card idea, well balanced. The text is huge at 428 characters. We trimmed it to 325.
Golden Master Security A powerful and cool card. The dual effects make it useful in every game, which is a huge design triumph for this set. The title is unfortunately open to easy mockery.
The prevention cost is too low when the Runner's cost to trash ice is considered.
The grammar of the flavor text is ugly. The card is 405 characters, which I slimmed down to 325.
Background Profiler A problematic card because it tramples one of the most basic game elements - the Corp cannot mess with the Runner unless the Runner is running, or is tagged. By side-stepping this rule with a rez restriction, Skip hopes to introduce balance with hidden resources.
Instead of using this mechanic, we simply made the second subroutine a clone of Mouse. This has to be fair, right?
The first subroutine needs an action cost. It is otherwise wide-open to abuse.
We rewrote the apologetic flavor text.
Department of Plausible Deniability The title is way too long. we revised it.
This is a slight variation on the Golden Master Security idea. It's extremely unwieldy, though. The first subroutine will almost never be used and has a very high cost. The second subroutine will also almost never be used.
This card needs to be almost entirely rewritten to be useful in more than 5 percent of Netrunner games. We did our best.
Word on the Street Once again, Skip has crushed the line between "tagged" and "anonymous". This card is laughably overpowered. We did our best to fix it, but it's just a bad idea. It should be scrapped.
Figure in the Shadows This should very clearly be an "Upgrade - Sysop". Not a "Gray Ops" node. When did installing employees become a Gray Op?
The rez cost should be 0. The second subroutine is almost completely worthless. It should definitely not cost any bits.
The card has the "Unique" keyword but no boilerplate text, a basic editing problem.
This is another monster text at 403 characters. We reduced it to 293.
Isolated Partition Scheme Trash costs are a kind of sacred cow in Netrunner. They are a very inflexible part of a card's balance. Only New Galveston is available to change that cost. We should approach any cards which change this balance with great caution.
What if we jack up the trash cost of our Bizarre Encryption Scheme to eight bits with this card? We almost surely win the game. Likewise with our Siren, our Fist in the Jar, our Roving Sub, etc. etc. etc.
This card has a simple, straightforward effect which really wrecks the game. We've revised it to prevent this wreckage.
Outsourced Multicompile A really crazy card. Our general feeling is that this is a broken idea, but we will be pressed to get enough cards in HQ to make it work.
Here's a first turn:
Draw A1: Day Shift A2: Day Shift 8 cards and 7 bits A3: Outsourced Multicompile A3.1: Install Newsgroup Tauntings A3.2: Install Newsgroup Tauntings A3.3: Install Newsgroup Tauntings A3.4: Install Newsgroup Tauntings A3.5: Install Newsgroup Tauntings 2 cards and 0 bits
The Runner is in real trouble and he hasn't even had a turn yet. This is not a difficult first turn to set up, either. Another Corp turn and the game is nearly locked.
The wording on the card is ambiguous. If we can't rez a card we install, what happens? The standard boilerplate is missing here.
We only added the boilerplate in my revised version, but we reserve the right to scrap this card if necessary.
Quick and Dirty Media Wipe The flavor text is too long. The title is too long. The card is far too one-dimensional. A truly bad design.
We tried to fix it by adding a general ability along with the antiviral one. We beefed up the antiviral power considerably. The card could easily be scrapped without harming the set.
Top-Down Micromanagement Why would this card ever be played when New Blood is available? We simply don't understand. Is the ability to rez ice part of some secret combination? This card must be scrapped or rewritten from scratch.
We did our best.
Voluntary Recall A horrible wreck of design. Unthinkably bad. No redeeming features whatsoever. This one was born to be scrapped.
We rewrote it, but only out of pique.
The flavor text is silly. It wouldn't be a press release, obviously.
Forced Recall Once again, Skip ignores the basic game mechanic that only tagged Runners can be messed with, or those making runs. How do we know where the Runner's hardware and programs are located? What kind of recall simply uninstalls cards, but doesn't repair or replace them?
This card is another design mess. We rewrote it as best we could, but it should be scrapped.
Mother Hen This card jacks up trash costs, but only in forts where nodes cannot be installed. It might make Turbo Delacroix quite formidable, but that's good for the game. This is a breech of the basic game balance which is forgivable and a bit interesting.
We lowered the trash cost and increased the rez cost for balance.
The flavor text is bizarre. It appears to have no relationship with the card.
Remote Retinal Scan We don't understand the point of this card. It must be combo fodder for Red Herrings and the like? Maybe it's useful for protecting R&D or HQ? In any case, Skip has once again trampled one of the basic Netrunner principles by turning Runner success into Runner punishment. This is just bad card design. Respect the game.
The idea that the Corp can somehow scan the Runner's retinas in the middle of a run is thematically bankrupt.
The flavor text has nothing to do with the card, it's just a bare spot filled with the story line. Again, a very bad editing decision. We don't want to remove essential story elements from the cards, but this flavor text must be rewritten.
The card should be scrapped, but we have rewritten it as part of our charity program.
Berlin City Grid Not obviously useful but also not broken. We reduced the bit cost of the subroutine to make it more attractive.
firstname.lastname@example.org A truly bad card name. It must have some cultural significance which escapes us.
This is apparently an anti-card for Priority Wreck and Weather-to-Finance Pipe. However, the low trash cost makes it almost useless. The card has an enormous 393 characters of text, most of which are repeated instances of the card name. Our version has 298 characters.
The subroutine provides a pathetic 2 bits per action. This is not helpful.
We tried to revise the card to be generally useful and not so fragile.
Chrysalid Matrix has a few really interesting and well-considered cards. It also has too many poorly considered cards. Some are far too strong, a few are far too weak. Additional shortcomings include blurring the lines between distinct keywords and card types; the promotion of generic icebreaking programs, and overly lengthy card texts. The set is also too small.
With all these fundamental problems, we cannot recommend Chrysalid Matrix, even as a free product. Rewriting and expanding the set to meet balance and playability standards would be a very large project. Hopefully Skip will find time and motivation to repair his Netrunner creation.
Still running after all these years,