Android Netrunner - Democracy And Dogma Review

So far the Mumbad cycle has shown a lot of promise as one of the best cycles to date. This is surprising as I actually wasn't expecting much from the initial spoilers and felt like maybe we'd be running out of ideas, but I'm glad to be proven wrong in this instance. That means Democracy and Dogma has a lot to live up to so can it carry on the upward trend?

To repeat a previous disclaimer, I'm a casual player that enjoys the game and can hold my own in a local store tournament despite having much to learn myself. That's all. Take that for what its worth, but maybe that will allow me to consider combos and ideas that will be fun to use rather than simply dismissing anything that doesn't make a Tier 1 level deck or whatever! So that being said, let's start. You can already check out my Android Netrunner review on my site. If you want to see all the images for each card, I recommend you visit netrunnerdb.com and use their search engine.



Political Graffiti 

Oh dear, not the best start. Oh well at least it's an Anarch card and they are my least favourite faction anyway (seriously can you guys design anything that doesn't include Faust or Wyldside in it?). But why is this bad? Well for starters the Corp generally have a lot more ways to forfeit agendas then you do and usually for far more punishing results. Do you want to give Weyland an easy Archer rez? Also it goes away on a successful purge so it's not even permanent! How many Corp decks are packing a Cyderdex suite because of you Anarch players now? Coaster card.


Nero Severn

Oooh another Criminal identity (it's now official that Criminals are my favourite Runner faction), that always makes me happy. Although it doesn't appear as powerful as other ones by far, I still like it to some extent, maybe I'm over-rating it. A starting link puts you in range of early Underworld Contacts, etc, but what I like about Nero is that she can be hyper-aggressive in the early game. Most players won't run because of the fear of a sentry screwing them over - well now you have protection. The Corp has to either let you in, or rez his other ice to bounce you off and that costs them money which slows their game plan down. And of course everybody knows the obvious Au Revoir combo, which resurrects a previously useless coaster card. I feel some more cards are needed to really flesh him out, but let's not forget that Geist started off in a similar fashion and then recently became amazing!


Reflection

Nero's new console and the ability itself I wouldn't say is that amazing although it's a nice little addition if you are using Au Revoir to jack out and make money anyway. However 2 credits for +1 Link and +1 Memory is pretty cheap, enough to suggest that other Criminals will use this just for the stat boosts. I actually used it originally with my Geist deck before I was drawn back to Forger for the trash ability.


Spy Camera

The Anarch consumer-grade hardware was pretty rubbish. Shapers got a reasonable one, this I believe is the best to date so far. Firstly being able to tailor your deck for your upcoming card draws is a decent effect and of course some Criminals can abuse this more than others. Second it's free so it's not using up credits to play. Thirdly the ability to look at the top card of R & D is not to be underestimated because it may save you from making a futile run. Use with Geist & Tech Trader for bigger smiles.



Political Operative

Wow, Criminal is getting all the nice stuff finally. Though I bet due to his low influence cost you'll see this guy appear with every faction. If you can land that HQ run, which let's face it in Criminal there's multiple ways of doing so, then you've gain a fast trash ability for whichever asset is giving you the most trouble. On top of that it negates all ICE defences that server may have had. Being a connection, it can combo with Off Campus Apartment or Hostage and even my Geist deck likes his trash ability as well. I feel this pack was designed for me.


Sadyojata

Sadyo-what? I don't know where they come up with these names! Obviously a trend of programs that can be swapped in and out at instant speed is what Deva is all about, but I'm not convinced at how useful they are yet. It's not a cheap trick to swap them in and out. Getting 3 subtypes on the ICE is also not the most common thing unless you're going up against Tracer ICE often. It's OK, we'll see how Deva's develop, but I feel this might go the same route as the Chess breakers from the days of Reina and be forgotten. Nobody has shown me how to build a proper Chess deck yet sadly, I'd love to do that for theme alone.


Freedom Through Equality

Not something that's prevalent in the Android universe but still if you can afford the cost, this is a neat way to score easy victory points and much easier than that Notoriety card from before. If you know an agenda is in that remote server, play this in advance and go get it. Failing that if you're doing big Medium digs into R & D or a Legwork into HQ, playing this in advance will reward you well. And currents aren't being seen as much as I would have expected any more so it may even stick around on the board for a while.


Akshara Sereen

Yeah I'm not convinced this was thought out that well and as such this is a coaster card for me. Let's put it this way. So you have 5 clicks and the Corp has 4. What can you do as a result of having 5 clicks? Get a little bit of extra income or card draw? Make one extra run? What can the Corp do with 4 clicks? Score most of the agendas in their deck from hand. . . . .




Councilman

I'm not as sold on this connection as I was with the Political Operative, but depending on what you use it with it can be a pain for the Corp even if only a temporary one. The best way I can see this being useful is for upgrades like Ash or Caprice which can ruin your day on a run. Other than that I'm not too fussed, but he's being splashed about in decks currently as a lifesaver card.


Voting Machine Initiative

You don't tend to see many HB 5/3 Agenda's kicking about as they already have such a good range of 3/2's and even some half decent 4/2's. I'm not sure if this one will buck the trend or not. Bioroid ICE already has the tendency to rob the Runner of clicks so this will compound matters further. Maybe it will see use in a Bioroid glacier deck, but it's got some major stiff competition to go up against.


Clone Suffrage Movement

Right now these new Political assets are why I think this has been one of the best packs of Netrunner ever. I already like playing horizontal style Corp decks and these just basically give me another reason too. They revolve around giving you powerful abilities at the start of a turn but they have to be kept in a naked server and have a low trash cost for the runner. Easier said than done except for one we'll get on to, but this one is still a very powerful ability. There are a ton of operations that are useful to bounce back, hell let's just take Hedge Fund for starters. Recursive economy every turn, the Runner will have no choice but to trash this.


Bio Ethics Association

But as good as HB is, it pales to this one. One net damage every turn for doing nothing and it stacks! Now that's not the reason it's the best one, it's because of the faction it's in. Jinteki, who have the perfect identity to use these political assets, Industrial Geonomics. By increasing the trash cost of political assets, this identity has become the Corp equivalent of a Whizzard Faust deck. It's ridiculously powerful to have these abilities out with little fear of being trashed. Now the slight saving grace is that each asset is worth two influence so you're not going to realistically get all of them in one deck, though it would be fun as hell to try. But with Bio Ethics if you get two or three of these out, it's pretty much game over.


Political Dealings

Be warned, this is not broken. You're probably all thinking that this is the ultimate fast advance card. But it's going to require a fair amount of card draw to be semi-reliable and that's what the recent Palana Foods identity is good at providing. However even then to keep this protected from being trashed it's going to require a lot of setup. However this combos very nicely with another political asset and our good friends at Industrial Geonomics. . .


Clones Are Not People

The Corp equivalent of the Freedom card from earlier, except this is in the Jinteki faction specifically. Well for theme reasons it certainly works. Now the boring way to play this card is to set yourself up so that you can score an agenda on the same turn you play this, basically by advancing a card already on the board that's hidden. Yawn, now here's the fun way. Play this card, then a Mushin No Shin and install a card with 3 counters on it. Welcome to one of the best mind-games in existence. Does your opponent think you are trying to gain FOUR points from a 5/3 agenda or have you just baited him with a Junebug? They either hold back and potentially let you get more than half way to victory, or risk it and potentially die instantly. I'm going to try and resurrect Harmony MedTech with this baby. Others have given New Angeles Sol a new lease of life, but that's a hefty influence cost.


Sensie Actor's Union

Another fantastic political asset, but remember I mentioned another combo earlier? Political Dealings requires you to draw a lot of cards to get the most benefit, well here's 3 a turn and in an IG deck this one is sticking around. Best of all you add one card from HQ to the bottom of R & D and it doesn't have to be one of the ones you drew. Getting agenda flooded, well we'll just put this one at the bottom for the time being. And you still get your mandatory draw on top! My only complaint is that this is such a perfect asset for an IG deck running Museum of History, but does that mean it won't get much use in an actual NBN deck?


Commercial Bankers Group

Oh my I'm in love with these assets. Certainly Netrunner has become maybe a little too asset intensive lately, but that's meta changes for you. Now compared to the others this is a little weaker, but that's like saying Vodka is weaker than Gin. 3 credits a turn is a huge swing and again these stack for insane gain. Of course IG can milk this for everything it's worth, but let's look at Weyland. Gagarin decks could heavily tax the runner with these as the cost to trash increases and more money in Weyland is never a bad thing. But this creates another baiting opportunity. Weyland is known for Sea Source/Scorching, though not as much as they used to be. This asset basically says, "come at me and trash it, I'll just blow up your house next turn" due to the Runner having made a successful run.


Mumbad City Hall

On it's own, this would be a reasonable tutor effect especially as you get to install the card, but thanks to Museum of History and Mumba Temple, two of the biggest meta changing cards of all time, this card I would almost call broken. For a single click you can tutor for one of those cards and install it. Repeat multiple times starting with the Mumba Temple so that you can cheaply rez the next one coming. Oh look, hello IG (I'm very happy to be a Jinteki player right now) with your increased trash cost boost, here's a card that allows you to set up your combo cheaply and easily for just one influence. Ouch! And of course Weyland itself will have plenty of uses too.



Bailiff

There are cheaper "End The Run" ICE available, but this one is still not bad for being a thorn in the Runner's early game. Once they're able to break it it will make back its cost in no time essentially turning it into a Weyland equivalent of Pop-Up Window. So don't use this to protect anything important, but it's a different kind of tax on the runner.


Surat City Grid

I haven't used this personally but the biggest use out of this card is for HB Bioroid lovers to start using Brain Taping Warehouse to rez a ton of nasty ICE cheaply and easily. I don't fully get the whole "timing" window thing (I'm sure I'll get assistance on that) and why this card helps in that respect, but 2 credits less for subsequent ICE rezzed on top of Brain Taping Warehouse is a huge saving. Naturally Engineering the Future will likely see this card more than others, but I wonder about NEXT Design? You get some ICE to begin the game with and can potentially deploy more on your first turn. If you stick with NEXT ICE in general, it's also very cheap. Who knows, but it's probably not as powerful.


Summary

This pack is one of the best packs I've seen in ages. The cards in this are completely shaking up the meta game now and have helped to turn Industrial Geonomics into one of the most powerful Corp decks on the go currently. Even the Runner cards were also pretty sweet especially for Criminal players, but definitely this was a pack for the Corp to drool over. My only worry is how the meta is going to recover from this as I suspect we could be seeing asset heavy "horizontal" decks for a long time to come. . .


If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/

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