Jinteki’s Neural Regeneration
Cycling Out Cards
So let’s talk about the rotating cards, as well as the ones that we recently found out will be staying within competitive legality due to the revised Core Set. We will start with all the cards from the new Core Set and then go on to talk a little bit about what we are losing from the cycles themselves.
Revising Core Set
~Staying the Same
Personal Evolution: I am very happy this gets to stay because no matter what kind of funky IDs get released, PE has always been the clear core ID of the faction. It represents everything the faction is meant to be which is the mystery that shrouds the things that the corporation works with. Despite the kill mechanics, Jinteki is very mysterious regarding the way it works and from its shell games to its very mind-gamey mechanics through psi games or other effects such as R&D tampering, it always finds a way to make the runner feel unsafe. PE has always said “I can basically keep any hand and if you run on ICEless servers, you might still take damage.” Especially with the newer cards like Obokata Protocol and Ben Musashi, this ID has a lot more to explore. In Cache Refresh, it is king because of the lack of Film Critic and we can only imagine how much more powerful it will become once we get more lethal red cards.
Nisei MK II: This is by far the most important agenda Jinteki glacier decks have. If it was to rotate, most Jinteki glacier decks would cry a lot. It allows for train-scoring in Aginfusion and it allows for protection against various powerful cards such as Indexing or other disruptive tools. It creates scoring windows and it keeps a constant pressure on the runner as long as that token is on there. I am very happy this did not rotate, as both the mechanic and the theme of it are just great.
Project Junebug: This was undoubtedly not going to rotate. I cannot imagine a world where Netrunner has no Junebug. Junebug is go-to card for all trap decks, not just Jinteki ones, due to both its high amount of damage, as well as because of its very low cost. It has killed runners left and right since the release of the first Core Set. This staying in is a huge deal, since we still have the number one mill tool still available. As I have always said, most players still underestimate the importance of being able to get rid of 4 to 6 cards from the runner’s hand, even if they don’t end up dead after that. A huge tempo hit that any Jinteki that runs Junebug-Mushin can force upon the runner.
Snare!: Just like with Junebug, this is a card that is just too iconic to ever remove. Snare! is also played in all sorts of decks and the golden cost of 4 credits has scared runners for years now. Snare! is sort of expensive in most Jinteki builds but nonetheless a necessary tool since the burst of a 3 net damage hit is simply too good to pass on when it can be fired out of anywhere except archives.
Neural Katana: This is somewhat obsolete and I am sort of surprised it was even kept in the game. I would imagine that the reason why it is still here, is because it is also a very iconic Core Set card. Other than that, it provides a good introduction to net damage cards for new players without being too oppressive like Komainu or Cortex Lock. The facts that it costs 4 to rez, only has one subroutine and is at 3 strength, are all enough to not want to play it even in rich Jinteki builds. It is not a good taxing card, it is not a good surprise ICE (I do not know many good runners that run blindly without a sentry breaker) and it only works well if you play Batty in your deck.
Wall of Thorns: This could be in the same category as Neural Katana and unfortunately is not that great, mostly because of its cost and the fact that Paperclip is the most played fracter (barrier-breaker) at the moment, which breaks Wall of Thorns for an underwhelming cost of only 4 credits. Chiyashi is broken by clippy for only 7, which is also quite low, considering its rez cost, so one can only start thinking about the value of barriers in the current meta when such an effective fracter is still around. Definitely not going to be seen on competitive tables any time soon though, since without Jackson, losing 8 credits for something that will not tax the runner that much is not a great option in most, if any, Jinteki decks out there.
Neural EMP: This is a must in any net damage deck. Even if you are not going to kill the runner, it is good to have and be able to use it just to snipe something off the runner’s hand. I have extensively talked about this in my Neural Secrets article and also in every deck explanation I have written on my Jinteki kill decks. Very happy to see this stay and look forward to using it to kill a lot more runners in the future.
~ Overall, a very good set of cards to be keeping from the original core set. The ICE was not great and that will not change, since the runners just keep getting better and more effectives breakers with every data pack that comes out. Thankfully, we have enough good ICE from the later packs to use that we will not be needing the core set ones any time soon.
~Coming in the new Core
Braintrust: This is the only 2/3 agenda that the faction has and it is extremely important that it is not losing it. The fact that you can install a card that can be fully advanced for 2 agenda points the next turn is a real threat and it brings to the table a lot of plays that would otherwise be impossible in a shell-game deck. Braintrust has a decent effect but its cost for firing is rarely ever worth it. You will have either rezzed quite a few ICE before you actually manage to score this with 5 advancement counters on it. The only way to fire its ability is with 5 advancements after a Mushin the turn before. Also great to still have it for glacier decks, since most runner will just think you are installing an upgrade when you put something behind a huge server and then just do other things instead of advancing.
Ronin: I honestly cannot stress how important this is. Ronin is even more important than having access to most ambush cards that are within the faction at the moment. It is of course the combination of all those things that makes the mind games possible, but if Ronin had gone out of legal competitive play, then the runners would have little reason to run advanced things most of the time and even more so, in the early game. I explain this every time I have a mentor-mentee session and I find it surprising that even experienced players do not see sometimes. I am talking about running early on things that have been mushined. Even if an agenda gets scored, it is not the end of the world and you can set up and then go grab the win. If you know it can be either Junebug or Agenda, then it is sometimes not worth running it. However, knowing Ronin can be a threat, is extremely important. Ronin makes everything scary for the runner and forces him to play in an even more careful way.
Himitsu-Bako: Although this has seen a lot of play in the past, that does not mean it will see any more now. This used to be a really good card for gear-checking the runner (forcing them to install a Fracter) but since there is Vanilla around and we know that Parasite is out of legality, there is little reason to play this cute little puzzle box instead of its much cheaper counterpart which pretty much does the exact same thing. Clippy breaks both for the same amount, so the only good thing I could see Himitsu-Bako doing, is basically being able to be pulled back to HQ in order to avoid a Knifed run or allowing your hand to get filled with non-agendas during an HQ access, so that you can decrease the odds of the runner finding them in your hand. I can see why it is Core Set, since it is a cheap to use in early to late game card and it works well for Core Set-only games.
Swordsman: This piece of ICE has worked as the silver bullet against many annoying decks that ran Faust when Faust was still not on the MWL. It is a one influence cost ICE that basically negates a lot of combos that the runner can set up with AI breakers. However, it is also a quite low strength to break Sentry ICE that most AI combos have ways of dealing with easily just because of that. I never personally liked Swordsman, because I always saw it as a dead card in 50% of my games. Even during the times that AI breakers were all over the meta, Swordsman was still a bit underwhelming. Even something like Komainu taxed the runner more in most cases, so Swordsman only acted as Parasite bait.
Whirlpool: As much as I love the whole “cannot jack out” kind of thing that some Jinteki cards can do, I cannot say I am extremely happy about this piece of ICE staying. Whirlpool has become kind of a dumb card that most Aginfusion decks just run one or two of, in order to pull off a very simple combo that in the past was somewhat hard to make work. It is a matter of luck if you draw the right cards early in order to be able to fire this, but seeing how Sand Storm is also quite strong at the moment in Aginfusion decks, I cannot say it is really all that hard. Might not be extremely great for competitive play, but certainly has potential. What troubles me about Whirlpool is that its uses are very limited and I am glad some AI breakers (like Aumakua) are relevant again, making this harder to pull off.
Yagura: This is by far one of the most interesting and fun ICE in Jinteki. It is a great early game piece of ICE that costs only one credit but will keep taxing the runner for either 2 credits or 1 credit and 1 card. The mini-Precognition subroutine that it has, has it be played on R&D most of the time, but even when on HQ (which is nice, because it is unexpected) it still pulls off its weight. Most runners think you do not really get much out of firing that R&D-related subroutine because they won’t be going there anytime soon, but sometimes, it actually gives you really important knowledge and even tempo if you end up putting a card you do not really need just yet to the bottom of your R&D. Definitely nice to see it stay as it has always worked as one of Jinteki’s most played and fun ICE.
Celebrity Gift: When this card came out, everyone said “Jinteki finally has the right amount of economy cards to play a glacier game!” They were very right. However, few people realize how important the trade-off is. No, I am not talking about the extra click you have to spend, but rather the fact that it basically gives tons of information to your opponent in one go. Having the runner know what is in your hand can of course act as a bluff on top of a bluff (when you are for example at 7 cards in hand, and you show only 5 before trashing 2 secret ones) but in most cases, however good the bump to your economy might be, Celebrity Gift allows the runner to plan out their next moves on HQ and other servers way better. Knowing if there is an agenda or not in HQ, means a lot for the runner, since they could just run R&D for the rest of their turns, allowing them to know what the Corp will draw into and just setting up until they can keep running on R&D more and more. Why would you even bother running anywhere else, or running at all, if you know the Corporation has no tricks or agendas to score in hand? Definitely an amazing economy card, but also one that requires a lot of practice in order to know how it is best played.
Trick of Light: This is yet another interesting mechanic that Jinteki has had for a while; the moving of advancement counters. At first, people said that it is great to have when you have a Junebug sitting in the corner, that the runner is never going to run into, since you can just move some of the counters on it to an agenda or something else that is use-able. With the introduction of Mushin no Shin later, this card became even better, since you could create a somewhat-fast advance kind of Jinteki deck with traps and a lot of mind/shell game going on with it. Trick of Light of course shined the most when Tennin came out and it made some of the advance-able ICE even more relevant. With Shipment from Tennin being available now (which is very powerful for fast advance), Braintrust staying legal as well and the introduction of multiple advance-able ICE that are not all that bad, various Jinteki fast advance decks (specifically Tennin the most) actually have a chance of making this work very well in a competitive environment. Trick of Light is most certainly an interesting card to have stick around as I am sure a lot of people will try it in the competitive meta and see what they can do with it.
Hokusai Grid: Most of the upgrades for Jinteki that saw play were Executives that had a mechanic that changed the entire pace of the game. That is what upgrades are meant to do anyway. However, Hokusai Grid is a very simple upgrade that perfectly fits to the theme that the faction has in the Core Set. Pairing it with the PE ID, you know that running to find an agenda on a server with Hokusai, will have you aching from at least 2 net damage. Jinteki is good at incorporating fear into everything they do and Hokusai Grid is most definitely one of the best cards to keep in the Core Set when it comes to choosing upgrades from the faction.
~ Overall, a very good selection of cards. Some of them are very iconic and important to the faction’s meta game, whereas some others are just there because they serve the purpose of getting new players into the game with some interesting and fun games. Things like Scorched Earth made things very black and white, so having a bit more of interaction between the two players through the mechanics of Netrunner is way better than just saying “oh, I have more money than you, you are dead.” I honestly hope that it works out for Fantasy Flight Games and their new Revised Core Set ends up being a success, since this game could always use new players.
Most important things to take from this though, are most definitely Ronin and Braintrust, since those two activate a lot of Jinteki’s mind/shell game mechanics that some of the IDs within the faction can run with a lot of success.
Leaving us forever
Zaibatsu Loyalty: This card rarely ever saw play and that is mostly because it was never really needed. Even with Infiltration in the Core Set, Zaibatsu was just a dead card when there was nothing else on the board. Spending one of your 3 clicks to install it will only result in wasting valuable time that you could have been using to set up the rest of your cards to start with your strategy.
Cell Portal: I cannot say I am happy or sad to see this leave. It has indeed been one of my favorite cards from the original Core Set, but then again, seeing how unimportant subroutines and effects are the moment (just because runners break things so easily), Cell Portal does not really have a place in the current meta. It costs too much money and it requires something like Batty and Whirlpool on the same server in order to make it work. Basically, a lot of setting up and investing in both deckbuilding and while playing the game to only fire a trick that might not even work in the end of the run. Sad to see you go Cell Portal, but nobody will miss you either.
Chum: This was a pretty decent card until the 3rd or 4th cycle, since it provided a way for Jinteki decks to protect centrals until they made enough money to protect servers by other means. Chum also worked as a scare-off mechanism, since most runners would just jack out after landing into one. It used to be one of the best code gate for Jinteki value-wise, due to its 1 rez cost and 4 strength, but alas, not anymore, since Aiki is around and that one just works on its own.
Data Mine: I never really liked this card. Mostly because it dies after it has fired its subroutine. Seems like a very one-off kind of thing that only prison decks ever got much use out of. Even if you are going with a low amount of ICE, because you needed to invest on ambush cards and other things, you most of the time need ICE that will stick around for at least a couple of turns, in order to tax the runner. Data Mine is of course very “Jinteki-y” by being a Trap, but it is still somewhat weak and not all that playable in most builds. Potential Unleashed and Industrial Genomics may be the only 2 decks that will miss this card. Even Thousand-Cut PE builds of the past, rarely played this in more than two-offs in their lists.
Precognition: As much as I may love this card, we all know that there was never enough space in our Jinteki decks to have this be part of them. I quite love the art on the card, as it is one of the things that I first saw and I got attracted by when I was trying out Jinteki. Also, the whole “scrying” mechanism that this card provides, is very fun and interesting. See you around Precognition!
Akitaro Watanabe: Barely anyone ever played this guy and yet he has become such an iconic card. People know Akitaro since the early days of Netrunner and how he provided that surprise rez of an ICE by reducing its cost and allowing you to rez it even when the runner thought you were too low on money to rez something painful. Other than that, Akitaro never really had much of an important role. I personally even tried him in my Nisei Division decks, since most of the ICE already costs 1 to 3 credits, but I felt I was not getting that much value out of him, so I replaced him with proper economy cards. Just like everyone else did once they tried out Akitaro and saw he does not really do much. There are of course situations that he could prove useful in the past (a run on a server with Akitaro after you have just been Siphoned for example) but I guess it was not enough to keep him in the game.
~ Overall, a good selection of cards that did not see much play anyway. There is not much to be said, some very important cards that were in the core set for the faction are going to stick around. So in the end of the day, Revised Core Set was merely a blessing for the Jinteki faction, unlike what it turned out to be for many of the other factions. That is something to be mentioned in the meta-explaining section of this article.
The Cycle Cards
In this section, we will take a look at the Jinteki cards that were in the Genesis and Spin cycle and are going away forever. They were unfortunately, or for good reasons, not picked to be in the revised core set and are therefore banished to the nether for evermore.
Jinteki Cards we say “goodbye” to
Some of the cards in the Spin and Genesis cycles saw salvation by being introduced in the Revised Core Set. However, there are quite a few cards that played a huge role in the past metas that we will have to say goodbye to. These are the following:
Fetal AI: This will most definitely be missed the most by Jinteki players in my opinion (next to Caprice Nisei at least) since it was a very nice default agenda to have. The fact that it does net damage on access and it also needs money to be stolen proved very crucial in many games, both glaciar and shell-game style. In many cases, a Jinteki deck did not care about scoring all that much and just used this as one of their many tools to ping the runner for even more net damage. Film Critic is of course a thing (now more than ever with Obokata Protocol) but that is still 2 extra clicks to score an agenda that could otherwise be stolen normally. That is tempo for the corporation.
Clone Retirement: I loved this in Mushin decks, as well as in pure Glacier-style Jinteki decks. Having a 1/2 is extremely important, as you can always force the runner to run more and more, just because they know you can close the game with install – advance – advance – score once you are at 6 points. Other than that, Clone Retirement was nothing more than just one more agenda in the Thousand Cuts PE decks, that allowed for even more pinging through agenda stealing. Most Jinteki decks do not use it anymore so I cannot really say that the meta will be affected much by this.
Unorthodox Predictions: This card only ever had one or two decks made for it, that worked. Sometimes. Other than that, it saw play in the Thousand Cuts PE decks that basically ran it because it was in-faction and there were no better 1-pointers back in the day to include instead of this one. It will not be missed as it is a card with not too much value. Armored Servers is basically the agenda that this should/could have been.
Edge of World: This is a very interesting ambush, as it could be placed to fake the installing of an agenda or an upgrade and then have it fire on the Runner’s face for some brain damage. The thing is, most of the ambush decks that had any amount of consistent success, did not really run enough ICE to make something like this worth it. I have rarely ever seen an Edge of World fire, both in casual and competitive play. Even when it did, it did not really matter all that much, unless the corp deck ran something like a SEA Source – Scorched Earth plan.
Dedicated Server: Beautiful art, probably one of the best in the game, and yet such a low value card. Rezzing for higher than the amount you are getting is considered plain dumb when compared to current power cards that many asset spam decks play. I tried it out in a couple Replication Perfection builds, but even there, it was not really all that much worth it. Unless you get mid to late game and you have not rezzed more than half your installed ICE, only then would it prove somewhat useful. But, why not install Sundew or PAD Campaign and get the value back faster, or have the runner spend a considerably higher amount of money to trash them while you spent little to no money.
Sundew: Sundew was always the most important card for Replicating Perfection and since both are cycling out, it is not really going to be missed all that much. An amazing economy card for the faction but rarely ever worth including in anything else other than in RP decks.
Shock!: I love everything about this card. I actually like it more than Breached Dome, sometimes. Breached Dome trashes the top of the runner’s stack which is extremely amazing, but the fact that Shock! costs 2 credits was sometimes so important for certain decks. Let us not kid ourselves though and see that in most competitive decks, Shock! worked as Archives protection, therefore making is trash cost entirely non-relevant. Having it be replaced by Breached Dome is quite interesting, since the new card acts as an empowered Shock!. What I fear the most, is the tournaments that will have to run with legality up to the Crimson Dust datapack. Those tournaments will have a bad time with all the IG prison decks that run x3 Shock! and x3 Breached Dome..
Toshiyuki Sakai: Toshiyuki has a very fun mechanic but every time you try him out in a deck, you end up thinking “why did I not install the thing I was initially going to install anyway?” You do not gain any tempo or anything out of him. Instead, you just lose card slots in your deck. Nobody is going to miss this guy, as cool as his art may be.
Snowflake: I have of course already talked about this, in length. I will again though! Snowflake was the first of its Psi kind and one of the most important ICE suite pieces for Nisei Division. It did not tax the runner much, but being able to rez at 1 credit and have 3 strength with a psi sub, was very important. In many cases, it is hard for the runner to even know if you really do want them to be going through it. There may be nothing in your HQ and you end up just betting 0 on Snowflake to gain a credit. Or, there is something important in HQ and the runner decided to let the sub fire since they do not really care how much you spend (because they are not fully aware of how important these credits are) and you end up spending 2 to keep them out, effectively having spent only 1 because of the ID ability. But, you have also cost them a click. Quite a great card and I am very sad to see it go. Most of the good PSI ICE cards that are left are Code Gates, which makes it a bit counter-intuitive to be stacking lots of one type of ICE on each server.
Sensei: Rarely ever saw play and when it did, it did not really do all that much. Not good value for the tax that it provided, even on servers with three ICE behind it. Will not be missed as it was a very underwhelming card.
Bullfrog: This is a matter of novelty and respect. If Bullfrog leaves us, then my heart will be broken in two. I can handle losing a bunch of other awesome Jinteki cards, but this…this cannot happen. I have played this in a few of my Nisei Garden decks and a friend of mine once jokingly said “you should go win Worlds with that deck now and get a full-art Bullfrog printed.” Even if I was ever able to realistically win Worlds, the card is not available anymore, so what is the point. Goodbye little frog, you will be missed.
Shinobi: Great card and amazing surprise subs to keep let the unsuspecting runner crippled after faceplanting into it. I have seen ff0x kill Stiv (best Noise player 2015) during the Dutch Nationals with this at the top 8 cut. Shinobi is just a really fun card to have in the faction and it also serves the NBN faction well too. It will not be missed but it is definitely an option that we will no longer have available during deckbuildling for janky builds and off-meta choices.
Marker: It is like Sensei, only worse. I have only ever seen this played once and it really did not do much. Won’t be missed.
Tsurugi: I personally never ever liked this card. Something about the numbers and the value that it gives that never left me satisfied. It has indeed won Worlds once (Dan killed Minh with it) but even then, it was only played because Jinteki RP did not have any better taxing ICE to play. I am not sure how much it would be played in a modern Jinteki glacier-style deck but nonetheless, it will not be missed much since there are so many other decent ICE choices to go with.
Jinteki: Replicating Perfection: One of the best Jinteki IDs. Jinteki Glacier was first possible because of this ID which created the whole idea with the Work Compression that forced the runner to spend a lot of tempo in order to keep up with what the Corp was doing. You can read a very nice article by Ian Neufeld about that on BoardGamesGeek. Even with Sundew going out of rotation, RP would have still been very powerful in the new meta, but alas, it is going out of legality as well, forcing fans of Jinteki glacier to choose another ID to go with.
Sunset: Bad card with a very rarely useful effect. Nobody ever played this and nobody was ever going to.
Restoring Face: Same as Sunset basically. There was rarely ever good enough reason to kill one of your cards just to remove Bad Publicity. The art and the mechanics reflect the theme amazingly well, but that does not make the card any good unfortunately.
Midori: This is a very nice upgrade for various situations. Unfortunately, its effect is not strong enough in order to convince you to have it in your deck. The best play I have ever made with Midori was at a GNK where I switched a rezzed Pup for a Swordsman when my opponent ran with Faust installed and nothing else (because he knew Pup wasn’t going to hurt him). I did this in 3 out of my 4 games that day, so I feel like Midori had her moment to shine. Then she went back to the box and now will go to the storage room too.
Caprice Nisei: It is kind of hard to explain how important this card has been at so many different points in time for the competitive meta. It is hard to explain because this upgrade has brought value in many different ways. Be it in RP or Nisei where you just Glaciered up, used Excalibur, a Nisei MK II token or a Caprice to keep the runner out of the remote, or in Foodcoats and other huge archetype decks, there have generally been many builds with it that all played a major role in the development of the meta. Despite its importance and the immense effect that it has had on the game, it would be silly to say that the card is at a level that would allow it to be considered even unfair. The fact that it is so cheap to rez and easy to fire (at a timing window that allows it to work perfectly with other things, such as the HB bioroid upgrade Ash) makes it extremely good in just any deck. Even if you put it behind a single ICE and score an agenda early because you kept the runner out with psi games, then it has already given you a lot of value. As much as I personally love psi games and as much as Caprice Nisei may be a very important card in my Nisei decks, I cannot say I am sad to see to go. It feels like things got way simpler for runners and I like that because it makes the game more interactive.
~Overall, from all these cards, the ones that will be missed the most are Caprice Nisei, Fetal AI and Replication Perfection. The rest did not really have such a big spot in the competitive and even Shock! has been replaced by something twice as good, thus making all prison decks that ran Shock! even better now.
Up Next: The Old and the New Meta
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