Brainware Blowout

 Chrome & Kilobytes, the first expansion for the Cyberpunk CCG, introduces a whole new twist on netrunner combat, a catalog of hot motorcycles, skill chips, some cutting edge cyber, and a whole array of runners including AIs, Clones, combat ready Solos, and the legendary Samurai guitarist Kerry Eurodyne.

But it’s netrunners and their foe who come out on top in this expansion. No longer do they have free reign across your data fortresses, fearing only the heavy hand of an NCPD bust. More than a dozen ICE equipment cards can be played to your operations or locations to thwart their uninvited intrusion. From Brainwipes to Soulkillers, the netrunner now lives in fear of a series of deadly anti-personnel cards that can be played as a //Reaction to his interference directly from your hand. These new ICE cards can bounce runners back to their owners’ hands, trash them, or reduce their power both temporarily and permanently.

A deadly surprise might be just around the corner, but netrunners in turn have their own extended arsenal of programs they can call on, from evasion cards like Silhouette to anti-ICE cards like Cat’s Cradle. But let’s not ignore the legion of actual netrunner cards we can now recruit. The biggest additions to the game surely have to be Candycane and Hector. The former, a cheap common that when he uses interface, lowers the E-Sec of every card in play until the end of that turn, the latter, a mid-priced uncommon that can use interface during Damage Control to carry the effect through until the end of your next turn.

Want to run multiple operations? A couple of Candycanes and a vehicle that can carry a whole team are now essential. Want to set yourself up for a big hit? Use Hector during Damage Control, then in your next turn add a Stim Patch and use him again and again to reduce E-Sec to nothing.

Netrunners also get two out of the three new sponsors. The Brainiacs allow you to lower either E-Sec or M-Sec, and although you are restricted in your recruiting of runners by faction, each time your sponsor is used to purchase a netrunner not currently in play, for 2 Eb you can draw another card from either deck. NetWatch, with a 25 bust point special victory allows you to raise E-Sec up to twice the printed value of a card, and turns all your netrunners into pseudo-cops.

The third sponsor, Zetatech, burns cards from the top of both your opponent’s decks, and with an army of cops you can quickly lock them out of the game and prevent them from recycling or recovering their key assets. Zetatech should create havoc with combo-based decks, and anyone who can’t deal with the strong arm of the law.

Another new runner attribute introduced to the game is the ganger. These cards feed off of each other, allowing greater deck cycling and manipulation and the ability to create large teams of rampant punks that can quickly overpower an opponents 4-man team. With no limit to the number of certain ganger cards in your deck, they provide the means to create the horde deck that so many wanted. When used in conjunction with cards like Street War, Shooting Range and Video Arcade, they can set loose a devastating army of juiced up boosters hell-bent on destruction!

Operations haven’t been left out either. Gangs Keep Down Property Values is the new evil twin of the much played Gangs Bring Down Property Values. This deadly combo is a sure-fire leveler for the government and street factions now though, allowing them to neutralize big spending corporations who rely on Casinos, Malls and 64 Cinemaplexes. At 15 Ops Points apiece this will quickly become an alternate victory path for the Zetatech player while still maintaining the stranglehold.

All this points to new ‘in ya face’ decks stacked with netrunners that can raise or lower security levels on a whim, or gangers that overpower through sheer weight of numbers. Once feared solo decks will now face serious competition from astute players who can carefully manipulate security when they need to, or quickly amass a self-generating posse of street thugs ready to bludgeon their runners into submission.

So, what are the top 3 cards in Chrome & Kilobytes? Well in keeping with the game design, the commons come out a winner here. Candycane, Go-Gangers and Night City Bailbonds provide the greatest investment for your Eb both in flexibility and power. Candycane will quickly become the next Milo Stevenson, the all-purpose runner that everyone saves a spot for, and Go-Gangers will single-handedly change the dynamics of teams and team composition. Third spot has to go to the Bailbonds. Cash-strapped government decks finally get that money engine they desperately needed, so expect this card along with the NetWatch sponsor to breathe new life into the cop deck.

In true cyberpunk style, with Chrome & Kilobytes the dark future will continue to be the brutal and unforgiving place we have come to expect, so remember choomba, attitude is everything.

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