Mmm, Deep Fried Comics
There are a few blogs I read with respect to comics who I just implicitly trust now. They aren’t peerless quality (though they are fantastic) but they are aligned with my tastes and my interests in such a way that if they like something, I’ll probably like it as well. And its from those blogs that I found Southern Bastards. It’s a story about crime in the deep south by Jason Aaron, the man behind the hugely influential comic Scalped (which you should ALSO read), and it has to do with a stick, a man, and his father.
The man’s father was the Sheriff of a small town in the deep south of America. He long turned a blind eye to the corruption and violence in his town, but after nearly dying at the hands of the gangsters, he vowed revenge. At that moment, a lightning bolt was said to have knocked a branch off a nearby tree. Taking it as a sign, he took up the branch, made it into a weapon, and started wreaking bloody vengeance on the criminals of the time, cleaning it up one brutal beating at a time.
This man is harder than you
But Father and Son weren’t the greatest of pals, and the son always resented his dad for his failures as a father. He moved away, went to Vietnam and found his own path in life. Events bring him back to his hometown long after his dad passed on, and he finds the family homestead overgrown and a huge tree growing out of his dad’s grave. He also finds the same old corruption that once festooned the town has taken root once more, and the town is filled with violence and crime.
Not wanting to be like the man he so despises, he turns a blind eye to the issues of the town, looking away as a mysterious “Boss” rips apart the town. Eventually, out of his own rage at being forced to ignore those in need and feelings welling up about his father, he turns an Axe on the tree growing out of the grave, starting to chop it down. But stopping his blade, in the middle of the tree, is his father’s Stick, beaten, bloodstained, and ready for use once again. Accepting his fate, he takes up his father’s weapon, and with it, his crusade.
It’s hard as nails, great written, fantastic art, and a great sense of it’s theme and setting. You should read this comic.
Weyland Part One – Strengths
Love the Aliens crossover
Now that we’ve unpacked a bunch of what makes Netrunner fun, I thought we’d take a look at some of the factions to see if we can’t build a sense of feeling as to what each faction is about. For our starters, Weyland, we need to think big. Big ICE, big money, and big damage. Old money, arms sales, space exploration, they are a heavy materials company that translates into a very heavy presence on the table. They are a very in your face faction, and aren’t shy about letting you know that they don’t like you and your tiny Runner self. We’ll talk about the weaknesses of the faction later, but we’re going to talk about the strengths first.
Big Balls, Bigger ICE
The first thing we can definitively point to when we think about Weyland is big ICE, specifically big Barriers. A great example is the hilariously named Curtain Wall to the right. As you can see, it has a MASSIVE 14 Rez cost, so it has to be good, and if you read the card, you’ll see why it’s worth the investment. It has three End the Run subs so it taxes some breakers that focus more on STR than cheap sub breaking, and will just be flat out expensive for even those like a Corroder that break relatively cheaply. And it has a huge 6 STR, so it’s a pain to pay your way through, and if it’s the last piece of ICE on a server it gains 4 more STR for a ridiculous 10 STR. That means that even the venerable Corroder takes 11 credits to break through a Curtain Wall once. Put it on a central like R&D that your opponent is going to want to access and you might as well shut the whole thing off.
Weyland is all about building advantages over your opponent and then making them pay or suffer because of them. They can do that with their abilities at making money, but they can also use the economic advantage of only paying the Rez cost of ICE once, but they have other tricks up their sleeve as well. The Orion to the left has an even more monstrous Rez cost of 15, but as you can see, it also can be advanced just like an Agenda can. This ability is unique (mostly) to Weyland, and in the case of Orion gives you -3 to the Rez cost of the card for each token on it. That means with just 5 clicks and 5 credits you can Rez it for free. And the best part is that the card doesn’t have to be face up for you to advance it, so you can keep whatever your advancing a secret before you Rez it. Is it an Ice Wall slowly creeping to the point of ridiculous? Or is an Orion, slowly gaining you a free high STR piece of ICE. Not to mention that Weyland have more than a few cards that give you free advancements, let you move them around for maximum effect or otherwise help you build a ridiculous advantage.
Weyland does love their big ICE, but they also have some substantial dangerous options as well, like Checkpoint. At the end of the day, they focus on big, high STR barriers and small pieces of ICE that act as a “Gear Check” for your opponent. A 0 STR Barrier stops a Runner who doesn’t have a Fracter just as good as a high STR Barrier does. The hope is that the advantage they gain by the “Pay once cost the runner multiple times” equation of high STR ICE benefits them in the long run, and they can leverage that economic advantage to gain a big head start in the game.
Winning at ANY Cost
So how do you get that Advantage? The first and most obvious way is by using some of the extremely powerful economic engines that Weyland has on their side, and using some of the Bad Publicity cards can help you with that. Hostile Takeover is an Agenda that tipifies everything about Weyland: Big men built like brick poophouses in expensive suits using money to muscle someone out, and the text of the actual card is pure Weyland too. It’s a 2 for 1, which means that for just two credits you can Click (install) Advance, Advance and score it in a single turn, without exposing it to your opponent. Getting a single point can be big, especially when you’re at 6 points and one away; the ability to score from hand even a single point can be huge. And did I mention that unlike most other Agendas, Hostile Takeover actually makes you money?
When you score Hostile Takeover you gain 7 credits for free, getting you a net 5 credit swing even accounting for the 2 creds you spent advancing the thing. But you also get a Bad Publicity, which complicates things. Every time the Runner makes a run, they can spend the Bad Publicity instead a credit, once per run. They also have some really bad cards they can play to capitalize on that Bad Pub like Blackmail but not everyone plays those cards, so let’s just consider the economic benefit of it. You gain $5 but you give them essentially a dollar every time they make a run, so there is a definite risk reward of it. On the surface, it’s not a great trade but getting an Agenda point out of it can be valuable on it’s own, and Weyland is all about the here and now. They build an advantage, and then leverage that into more advantage, and on and on and on until the Runner is pretty much dust. And tools like Bad Publicity and Hostile Takeover can be a huge tool in that game.
Money advantage isn’t the only thing you can use to your advantage, Weyland is also the keys of murder, so much so that anything that doesn’t include the requisite tools for murder is deemed “Vegan” Weyland. The key to that strategy, is the venerable Scorched Earth. This card, is huge. If the Runner is Tagged, you can deal 4 Meat Damage by only paying three credits, and remember, if we deal more damage than the opponent has cards, they flatline and we win. So if you have 4 or 5 cards, a Runner is safe, but what happens if you have TWO Scorches in hand, or maybe three? It’s pretty much game over for there, given the hand-limit of 5 cards. It’s such a powerful card that at a BEASTLY 4 INF you still see the card in other factions, and nearly every Weyland variant has it to some extent. Of course, you have to Tag the opponent to use it, but you can spare a bit of INF to get some sweet tagging tools like Midseason’s Replacements or SEA Source from the masters of tagging, NBN. Weyland, unlike any other faction using tools like Scorched Earth or Traffic Accident can straight up murder the Runner.
Because you know what stops a Hacker? A cruise missile.
EVENTUALLY this game will come out. Maybe?
As I wrote this article and brought up INF for what seems like the hundreth time I figured I should probably talk a little more about it before we get back into Weyland and talk weaknesses. Deckbuilding is pretty key to the game, and it doesn’t make much sense to talk about Factions without talking about HOW they all interact together. Might be a diversion before the next article, maybe a smaller one, who knows!