Despite FFG’s reassurances that crime never ends, the Criminal faction in Netrunner has been at a pretty low ebb lately. And, with Tapwrm being restricted by the latest MWL, this will probably make things even worse. This rant used to be part of my analysis and response to the MWL update, and I split it off because it was just too long and rambling. If you are averse to people frothing at the mouth angry at little pieces of cardboard, don’t click below!
While Tapwrm is an excellent card, it is not the only reason that Shaper emerged as the best faction at Worlds. If that were the case, the faction with Tapwrm in-faction would surely not have tanked as badly as it did – the highest-placing Criminal deck with the exception of Geist was 95th! Sure, Criminals are in a bad place and Señor Taps can’t solve all their problems, but Tapwrm being restricted places them further behind. With Desperado and Account Siphon having rotated and Temüjin getting banned, you’d think FFG would be hesitant to ban one of the few good Criminal economy cards left. You would also think that, after Temüjin, they would have learned not to print Criminal economy cards at only 2 influence, but they did. Of course, some of the Clone Chip Hayley decks at Worlds ran only a single Tapwrm, so influence is not a great deterrent to the faction that can instantly tutor and recur any program, but even a 1 influence increase would have meant they’d have to give up some other of their toys! Seems like they learned their lesson though – the upcoming Pad Tap is only 1 influence…
Ever since Worlds, I’ve been ranting at anyone who would listen that, in fact, Sacrificial Construct is the card that should have been restricted. I was very happy to see that a number of top tier players, far more knowledgeable at the game than me, have also suggested that it might be a good target for restriction. This includes world champion Wilfy Horig, who suggested it while chatting to Ben Ni, and then re-iterated it in a recent TWA episode.
Here’s the thing: between the various CI decks (Biotic Labor, MCAAP, Elective Upgrade, and a host of other tricks), Shipment from Tennin out of PU, and Psychographics in CtM, virtually all the best corp decks at Worlds had some fast advance. Shapers, of course, are the best at stopping fast advance through their ability to install Clot clicklessly with SMC or Clone Chip. Of course, the Corp can simply purge and trash the clot in response to that, which is why CVS was a widely-played card. Multiple SacCons, however, impede that plan, and the new DaVinci tech, which allows the runner to instantly install one (or two with Hayley trigger) SacCons from hand when the Clot was installed means that the SacCons are not vulnerable to being trashed before the fast-advance turn with Best Defense.
That’s ok, of course. Having to devote multiple deck slots and 2 influence on just keeping Clot on the table makes the deck pretty bad at other things, such as making enough money to get into remotes. But here’s the catch: SacCon also helps keep Tapwrm on the table! Spending multiple turns sequentially purging just to get through all the SacCons and get rid of Tapwrm is disastrous for most corps, and even if you manage it, the runner will have made a tidy sum of credits by then. Even after it’s gone, it can be Clone Chipped back, or all copies can be shuffled back into the deck with Levy, along with all the SacCons too!
So my position is: Clot by itself is fine; Tapwrm by itself is fine; either of those alongside SacCon is strong, but not ridiculous, as 3 deck slots devoted to keeping a single virus on the table is probably bad. However, both Clot AND Tapwrm protected by SacCon, and able to be recurred multiple times through Levy or Clone Chip? That creates a monster of a deck that literally has an answer for everything in the meta, with an unpurgable Clot that can stop fast advance dead and money on tap (pun intended) which the corp can only deny by wasting multiple turns while agendas clog up their hand.
SacCon enables the same deck to be the best both at contesting taxing remotes (using all that Tapwrm money) AND at stopping fast advance! While every other runner deck was better against corps on one end of the fast-glacial spectrum, and weaker against corps at the other end, Hayley was the best deck against both ends of the spectrum! There was literally no reason to play another runner!
Without SacCon, the deck would still be formidable, but far more fragile. It can still counter both glacier and fast advance, but less well than before. Alternatively, it can choose SacCon as its restricted card, and be able to keep those viruses on the board, but only until the SacCons run out, losing the option to recur them further with Clone Chip or Levy!
As a bonus, restricting SacCon instead of Tapwrm would not have hurt Criminal decks, which are by far the weakest faction at the moment and it’s pretty cruel to kick them while they’re down. And with more “trash on purge” viruses like eXer coming out, restricting Tapwrm won’t reduce SacCon’s utility – in fact, without restriction, we might start seeing it in even more decks!
I’m hopeful that the new toys Criminals are getting in upcoming packs will make up for the fact that Tapwrm is restricted, because, of all the factions, Criminal is probably the one that needs Employee Strike or Film Critic the most in that restricted slot. It would hurt to have to devote it to economy!