The Weyland Consortium is Unwell
There is something wrong deep in the grey-green halls of the company of Jack and the Beanstalk.
Weyland ICE is weak, and even the Consortium’s reputation for making quick cash ruthlessly and consistently is under threat as it fails to develop new techniques to keep pace.
All that Weyland has to fall back on is its willingness to punish transgressors with bombs, guns and explosives.
Weyland’s card pool is in an identity crisis: The cards seem to push deckbuilders towards Midrange or Control strategies which seek to establish a remote quickly and score agendas behind moderately sized ICE.
However, the economy cards, the ICE and the upgrades in-faction are too weak to support this strategy, and the answers to meat damage weaken Weyland’s alternative plan of attack.
This article will examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current Weyland Consortium card pool and present a wish list for future cards to enable growth in diversity of Weyland decks.
I firmly believe that Building a Better World is one of the best IDs in the game. If some of the issues below were fixed, it would be a powerhouse.
Blue Sun is a very powerful ID with some excellent support cards. Oversight AI/Curtain Wall is a huge economic boost but requires quite a bit of deck space and is sometimes unreliable in the mid to late game.
Again though, Blue Sun struggles to perform some of the fundamentals: Namely keeping the runner out of remotes.
If Weyland had a defensive upgrade or some more viable remote server ICE, Blue Sun would be a big beneficiary because it has more of the other architecture in place already.
Titan Transnational suffers from economic issues and the weakness of Weyland ICE, and would sit alongside Blue Sun as my IDs of choice if Weyland received some better defensive capabilities and another premier economy operation.
The meat damage threat is real.
Unfortunately it becomes plan A all too often, which renders most Weyland decks impotent, (or at least severely hampered), when faced with Plascrete Carapace.
If meat damage is able to return to being a secondary win condition because Weyland can more reliably score 7 points through remotes, it will be healthy for the faction over all.
The power of meat damage, (and the lack of power in other areas), is one of the reasons why this strategy is so ubiquitous in Weyland decks at the moment. The imbalance between meat damage and scoring through remotes stifles deckbuilding creativity, soaks up influence, and reduces deck diversity.
There are five key areas integral to Corp play in Netrunner where Weyland is consistently behind the curve:
- Uncreative, poorly scaling barriers
- Weak or narrow sentries (Archer excepted)
- Extremely limited code gates
- Difficulty Scoring Through Remotes:
- Lack of defensive upgrade
- Lack of punishing ambush or hostile Asset to enable effective shell games in remotes.
- Weak agendas
- Lack of access to either of Jackson Howard’s abilities in-faction (card draw or archives recursion/shuffling)
There is also one glaring issue with Weyland’s secondary meat damage strategy:
- Inability to tag reliably in-faction to turn on meat damage/tag-punishment cards.
Taken together, these problems mean that Weyland has to import cards from other factions to fill each of these holes.
This makes deckbuilding a chore, and means that creativity is stifled as you are shoehorned into including efficient out of faction cards rather than being able to be experimental because you cannot do the fundamentals well enough in faction to support creative strategies.
Weyland ICE is, I’m sorry to say, largely rubbish.
Almost every Weyland deck I build has to splash for ICE from out of faction. I end up playing almost exclusively out-of-faction or neutral ICE. The only in-faction ICE I will reliably include are Ice Wall, Archer, and possibly Caduceus.
Most of the advanceable ICE are almost unplayable and take up space in the card pool that could be filled by functional ICE. The “cannot be advanced while unrezzed” ICE is awful, and unfortunately the celestial ICE from Order and Chaos is just too slow and not impacting enough when it does fire.
The designers have seemed to try and give Weyland situational ICE to answer some of its weaknesses. For example; Taurus to counter Plascrete Carapace; Builder to make advanceable ICE more efficient; and Shadow to tag and provide economy.
What these narrow cards do instead is pollute the Weyland card pool with linear cards that have little application outside of narrow strategies. None of the ICE I’ve mentioned end the run, yet they take up ICE slots and soak up credits just to make your other cards function as you need them to.
Many of Weyland’s strategies are either non-complementary, or require too many support cards to work, especially when you want to utilise multiples of them.
For example; advanceable ICE require their own support suite, (Constellation Protocol, Builder, Commercialisation, Shipment from Kaguya); meat damage requires its own suite, (Midseason Replacements/SEA Source, Scorched Earth, Traffic Accident); and Blue Sun’s economy requires its own suite (Oversight AI, Curtain Wall/Hadrian’s Wall).
These cards come packaged together so that there is very little room for modularity. You can’t pick and choose elements of each strategy, because each one demands you go deep in order to realise even rudimentary efficiency or power.
Archer has been the mainstay of Weyland decks for a long time, but it cannot defend remotes on its own and in many games is best placed on a central because of the proliferation of one-shot answers, (Faerie, Sharpshooter, D4vid), all of which are commonly played.
The other, (very significant), weakness of Archer is its reliance on Hostile Takeover. Playing Archer without Hostile Takeover is difficult-to-impossible and is horrible from an economic standpoint.
Playing Hostile Takeover forces bad publicity, which makes it far more difficult to utilise NAPD Contract reliably. This also makes it harder to justify playing Caduceus, which is serviceable on its own, but is far worse when bad publicity enters the equation.
Fire Wall, Changeling and Lycan: Three middle cost ice that could have been useful for a remote scoring strategy, are simply too far behind the power curve with only one subroutine apiece for a hefty rez cost.
Hive is the sort of ICE that Weyland needs for its remotes, but it scales down too significantly in the late game. Hive’s drawback is so severe that decks other than Blue Sun cannot afford to make that sort of investment in a piece of ICE that will not help them to score their last two or three points.
Ice Wall is an excellent aggressive piece of ICE, but Weyland decks, with the exception of Argus, cannot be aggressive. They do not have the economy to defend against increasingly diverse threats to centrals whilst scoring out multiple agendas early, behind small ICE. The economic equation of the ‘supermodernism’ style deck just doesn’t balance any more because Runners are too fast and too efficient.
The Solution (ICE)
- more ICE with multiple subroutines;
- more code gates (the existing in-faction code gates are all weak with the exception of Wormhole, which is expensive and unreliable);
- more viable sentries that trash programs, gain money and/or end the run; and
- more barriers with diverse subroutines in addition to ending the run.
These ICE should cost between 4 and 7 credits but should have 2 or more relevant subroutines, including an ‘End The Run’.
Beanstalk is the weakest of the lot, except when it is played in Building a Better World (where it is excellent). What this means for other Weyland IDs is that they are effectively held back when compared to the Core Set ID, and have to find other avenues to economic efficiency.
In-faction, there are only two other options: GRNDL Refinery, which is both inefficient and very risky as an economy engine, and Mark Yale, which is only viable in Titan Transnational and doesn’t provide any benefit in the first three or four turns when economy is most vital for the Corp.
Weyland has, (finally), received some more viable economy ICE in recent times in the form of Errand Boy. Unfortunately the rez cost and low strength of Errand Boy do not compare favourably with the return provided by Popup Window, given the latter’s rez cost of 0.
In any case, relying on ICE that doesn’t end the run for economy is not where a faction that begs to be played defensively wants to be. Caduceus is decent, as mentioned above, but is weak to both Mimic and Runners who have bad publicity credits, both of which occur all too often.
The Solution (Economy)
Weyland needs another proactive and reliable way to make money, preferably an operation (which should be pushed in power level and not be a transaction).
In addition, these factions all have realistic, playable assets to install into remotes and bluff as agendas: Aggressive Secretary, Cerebral Overwriter, Project Junebug, Snare, Psychic Field and to a lesser extent Ghost Branch.
These cards all have a significant impact on the game if they are accessed by the Runner. Additionally, Runners have to think twice before running remotes purely because these cards exist. For Weyland, however, the threat is significantly less credible due to the lack of such cards in faction.
The Solution (Remotes)
Weyland needs a credible Ambush, a good defensive upgrade, or preferably both!
Hostile Takeover is a liability. It restricts the corporation’s ability to effectively tax runs, and makes Weyland work harder to play the best neutral agenda; NAPD Contract.
NAPD would otherwise be a perfect fit with Weyland’s Midrange, remote-focused strategy.
The bigger agendas struggle from the lack of an ambush or defensive upgrade. The other problem with Weyland’s bigger agendas is that they don’t feed into the defensive game plan; they are all geared towards the meat damage/credit race game plan.
This makes scoring a bigger agenda less of a boost to a taxing, remote focused deck. Geothermal Fracking often actually makes it harder for a defensive corporation to win, due to the corrosive nature of bad publicity to any taxing remote.
Weyland’s 3/1s are awful: Posted Bounty should not have to be forfeited to tag, (as it is you HAVE to score it to kill otherwise it is just awful value), and Vulcan Coverup has an almost inexplicable drawback which is a fatal blow to the card’s playability.
The Superior Cyberwalls cycle is not where corporations want to be. Compared to some of the better 3/1s; House of Knives; TGTBT; Director Haas’ Pet Project; and Licence Acquisition, these Weyland 3/1s are very weak and do not support a remote-oriented gameplan.
The Solution (Agendas)
It would be good to see a Weyland agenda that effectively bolsters ICE, (something like Project Wotan), or allows the Weyland deck to interfere with the runner’s rig and open scoring windows through remotes. HB has a lot of these tools, and Weyland almost completely lacks them despite having only one 3/2 agenda and being required to play 5/3s or 4/2s to win.
Weyland’s over-reliance on Hostile Takeover and the associated bad publicity is a huge issue. I would like to see Weyland receive a 2/0 agenda with a relevant power counter ability, (perhaps clicking and spending the counter to trash a Killer), which can replace Hostile Takeover and allow reliable rezzing of Archer.
Weyland needs to reduce its reliance on meat damage as a path to victory and develop its defensive capabilities.
ICE, economy cards, agendas and upgrades are all required to make this strategy stronger, but the addition of more efficient in-faction cards in at least one of these areas would free up some influence and allow for more creative deckbuilding in the Weyland faction.
Thanks for reading – feel free to hit us up on Twitter, Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to continue the conversation or let me know your thoughts on the state of the Consortium!
Jesse Marshall is the 2014 Australian National Champion and Panelist on The Winning Agenda. When not advocating for air-strikes on the apartment buildings of known hackers, he is a corporate drone, avid Netball, Cricket and AFL fan. You can check out his ramblings on twitter @jessedgmarshall