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Seven Masters

With the release of Critical Shift, Shadowfist's 10th (and most unnecessary) Faction has reached the critical mass of 27 cards (which exceeds the Seven Masters card total of 23).  Instead of following the 7 Masters elegant design, the Syndicate unfortunately mimics more of the chaotic design of the Purists -- but with TWO talents thrown in helter-skelter instead of just one.

Foundation Characters    Utility Characters    Hitters
Events    States    Edges    Sites
 

 

FOUNDATION CHARACTERS

  Mars Colonist
Half of your required talents, which is just going to be bad since Syndicate wants both Tech and Chi.
  Street Sensei
This is twice as bad as Mars Colonist, which makes it pretty bad.  ! Influence is garbage, making this more useless than Noodle Lady since the Syndicate needs two Talents.
 

Street Sweepers
What the heck?  A 2-cost foundation with no real ability other than providing the Talents the faction needs?  Who designed this piece?  It's like giving us the Noodle Lady all over again.  Sure, Kunlun Clan Assault was pushing the boundary, but with only two foundation characters, the Syndicate also needs to test the limits, and this ain't it.  And what's up with the name?  Do they run around with brooms and garbage cans on wheels?

 

Triad Punks
Bland as they get.  I guess you can try to go Hood crazy, but that's about as exciting as you're going to get.

   
 

UTILITY CHARACTERS

 

Corporate Hacker
Strictly un-fun.  Who likes having all their best cards hosed?  This is also bad because it's going to slow down the game (as does anything that fiddles with decks).  Yeah, it's a ramp, but it only ramps half of what the Syndicate need.

Rating:  2.5

  Dimitry Lyapunov
The Syndicate badness continues with this card.  If case you haven't figured it out, 1-for-1s with no ability are bad.  Spending 2 power and turning 2 Fighting to do it is even worse.  Yes, it does give you something to sacrifice, but if you are playing a sacrifice deck, you are already playing jank, so why play even more?
  Hirake Kazuko
Four Syndicate resources?  What where they thinking?  Hirake is a card that you don't want to play until you are ready to use to steal a character (ignore his Influence, it's generally worthless).  Once he's out, your opponent's wont play non-uniques until he is smoked.  # fighting helps a little, but if you have any experience with Mr. X, you know that in the long run, your results aren't worth the cost.  As an added bonus, you can combo with LaGrange 4, to steal a character, run it into something, then steal another (that if if your opponents are generous that is).
  Inside Man
This guy is badness on steroids (and I mean bad bad).  He has a terrible ratio to start off with.  Except for Corporate Warfare, you are turning Fighting (on fragile characters) to give Inside Man fighting,  And, his Fighting wears off at the end of the turn, so he has the risk of being smoked even if he survives combat. 
 

Jessica Ng
Ugh... three resources.  That's just what you don't want to see in a new faction with limited cards.  Anyone remember Monsoon?  Seeing the future is marginal, and as for the play at +1, it's sketchy.  You will need power power power, and the Syndicate isn't juiced like the Ascended.  Yes, Nihilist can give you some, but IKTV and Violet Med are going to be your staples.  To dig deeper:  You could be playing great cards in your deck, and paying their normal cost -- is it worth a 1 power premium to deny your opponent a card?  Yes, sometimes, but again, you need power to spare, which is only likely to be when you're winning, and aren't there better cards than Jessica Ng to help you lay down the finishing move?

Rating:  1.75

Joey Ferreira writes in:
    I agree with your comments, but here's another problem we found: she's loathed by all your opponents. Everyone has cards in their deck they don't want to see used against them, and now they can see them coming. Do you think an Ascended player with Shadowy Mentor on the top of his deck is going to leave Jessica alive until your turn for you to use it? And that's assuming he doesn't decide to terminate her early, let's say something like Op Killdeer comes up and it's too late. Sadly, Jessica's ability is most useful over a long period of time, when you can wait for cards that are worth the +1 cost to play or deny your opponents. But she'll never live that long. And, of course, she's not much fun to play against. :-(

  Junior Executive
Yawn, Influence, boring.  And while I usually like ramp characters, the Syndicate is so resource hosed you are better off playing another of the 1-cost Talent foundations (Triad Punks or Mars Colonist) than the Junior Turkey here (who only provides faction resources).
  Rei Okamoto
Since she's uncommon, Rei is going to be one of your bread and butter characters -- unfortunately, it's stale bread and spoiled butter.  If you can keep her in play, it's a 2-cost re-usable Brain Fire or Stealth -- but that 2 cost keep in play is killer on a character.  Rei has Final Brawl written all over her.  Compare her with two of my favorite Uncommon Uniques, Jenny Zheng and Monsoon, and you will find that Rei's on the losing team.
 

Salaryman
Lame.  Look at Agent Tanaka for about where you want to be.  And this guy doesn't provide any talents.  Yes, Ambush is good, but it's really a tool to take sites (that's how you win the game).  Spending 3 power on this guy just so you can whack characters of 4 fighting or less makes will make you sad.  And may be nullified if a large character comes out as Salaryman doesn't have Assassinate either (see Tanaka again).

Rating:  1.5

  Zero-G Sumo
The Sumo is pretty iffy -- he's too dependent on your opponents having Limited and Unique sites.  Also, he requires Tech, which has the potential of slowing him down early game.
   
 

HITTERS

  Devendra Chalal
Playable, but pretty bland.  Devendra's going to ignore foundation characters, but will trade with any 7+ Fighting character.  Yes, it's going to take sites for 5 power, but Devendra is vulnerable to stoppage, which is all too common these days.
 

Echo and Silence
Here we have a card that's strong offensively against characters, but not so much sites on its own, and can be somewhat weak on defense.  Echo and Silence are going to take a big chunk out of any character then enter combat with, but anything about 8 fighting or more will leave them pretty hurt (and 11 fighting stops them cold... Ice Queen anyone?)  The odds are you are not going to get intercepted, and 5 damage won't take most sites (Ambush damage is only against characters, never sites), so you're really going to want to pump this guys damage up -- sure, Hyper-Alloy Blade is nice, but you're still 1 damage shy of the magic number, 8.  And defensively, this guy is a pud.  Every damage he takes is almost like taking 2 points of damage (sort of like Ten Thousand Agonies) -- expect Echo and Silence to be Silenced by your opponents asap.

Rating: 2.5

 

Nihilist
This guy has just about everything you could want in a non-unique character (except good flavor).  Nihilist has got the standard power-to-fighting ratio and two abilities that will actually trigger.  The best is the power gain for nailing a FSS.  This can give you a super power rush (beware the bite) or a BfV or seize and a mild power rush.  The second ability doubles on offense and defense -- drawing a card every now and then for offing a character can be a nice little bonus -- the problem is that the Syndicate just doesn't have a lot of cards you can take advantage of with those extra draws, so you're going to be looking to your other faction for juice.

Rating:  2.75

 

Song the Little Dragon
This is actually a card design I submitted years, so I can't be too harsh (it was originally called Puzzle Beast (after Puzzle Garden) and was a Purist card (at 4 it was supposed to be a CHAR rival).  What playing with this card showed is that it wound up being too defensive in nature -- the half damage becomes a lot better when you can pick your opponents.  If you do the math, Song always has toughness 1, and it only scales up -- against another 6 Fighting character he has Toughness 3 and will overcome interceptors.  He hits a wall at 7 Fighting, but still takes a nasty chunk.  One of my problems with this card is that it's too much like Echo and Silence -- both are medium hitters with anti-character abilities.  E&S are offensive only, while Song is more rounded.  Both really want a +damage effect, and as such, are just kinda meh.

Rating:  2.5

  Xu Mei, The Dragon
Yes, good if you can ever get her into play, but Xu Mei's whopping cost and onerous resources would make Chuck Norris cry.  If this is the best the Syndicate have to offer, they got not hope...
   
 

EVENTS

 

Bait and Switch
While this is one of the best and more innovative Syndicate cards, it should have gone into another faction, probably the Lotus or Purists.  For a minimum of 2 power, you are making one of your hitters un-interceptable -- maybe.  And that's if your bait is a 1-cost foundation -- it could be more.  You know, for 2 power, you can do a lot of damage in a few other factions.  And in multiplayer, others will catch on to the Syndicate tricks really fast -- if someone who isn't the target of the attack intercepts your Bait, there are still players who can intercept your switch, essentially costing you a power for nothing (unless the character you don't want to be intercepted by is controlled by someone other than the target of the attack).

Rating:  2.25

  Catching Bullets
While this card may look appealing at first glance, it's actually pretty bad.  It plays like a watered down Who's the Monkey Now? that's only good against a few cards (most notably Operation Killdeer, Imprisoned and Nerve Gas).  Yes, it's really good against those if you have power to spare, but most of the time it will way too reactive, and just sit in your hand instead of getting you somewhere.  WTMN? is a better card for two reasons -- it triggers on *any* card you own being targeted (not just a character), and you get an immediate zap at no additional cost.
 

Data Theft
Pretty janktastic.  You are playing a sub-par card like Data Theft in the hopes of getting a good card from an opponent's deck.  Of course, you could have just played better cards.  So, what is the value of denying your opponent a good card?  Well, there is some to it, but you lose the opportunity of holding a card in your hand -- once you start a Data Theft, you have to go through it.  And while this is a 0-cost event, it's not really free -- you have to have a character in play to turn, and you have to have power to play it.  And again, didn't you have a card in your hand you wanted to play more?

Rating:  2

 

Inconvenient Debt
This is probably my favorite Syndicate card, but I'm just not sure how useful it will be.  This will be good for breaking up a character stalemate, but it relies to heavily on an opponent having some beef available.  Still, this is nowhere the powerhouse that Information Warfare is, and it has a really insipid name to boot.  The tastiest use is going to be attacking with a Triad Punk and coercing something serious into the attack.

Rating:  2.25

  Reprogramming
This is a somewhat fun dilemma card, if not very reliable.  0-cost makes it playable, and cancelling characters is good -- but since your opponent controls the effect, they are going to pick the one that does the least harm.  Think of this much as you would Larcenous Mist -- it's a card that can be really good situationally, but invariability gets cut from the deck to make room for something more useful.
 

STATES

 

Hyper-Alloy Blade
Yawn.  Yes, it's better than Really Big Gun, but isn't almost everything?  The CHAR ability is cool, but it's still bland.  You can get a light-weight combo with Scrappy Kid, but I think we've all been there and done that.  And to top it off, this Blade is not a Sword, so no cool Syndicate/Hand Swords deck.

Rating:  2.25

 

Wall Running
First off, this card requires , so it's probably a late game card, but that's okay.  The ability does remind me of a lot of those bad States that one one plays (like the Paths).  Here's where this card gets retarded -- it doesn't really combo with any of the Syndicate cards.  First off, the Syndicate doesn't have any characters that cost over 4, so you can't Wall Run by the big beef that's going to be your real obstacle.  The two unique hitters, Song and E&S both have anti-character abilities, so they have their own built-in interception deterrence -- anyone who'd be intercepting wont be affected by Wall Running.  That leaves you with Nihilist (who also provides ) for your one in-faction combo.  Sure, it's decent, but you're really going to have to look out of faction to maximize Wall Running.

 
 

EDGES

  Corporate Warfare
Here we have a faction defining card -- and it's a pretty bad definition.  I suspect that everyone will slowly come to realize that Influence is way down at the bottom of the useful boldface ability lists, along with Tactics.  Yes, it helps a little, but it's not worth the power.  The second half of Corporate Warfare is okay -- nuking an Edge for 1 power is acceptable, but in multiplayer, you'd rather have other players spending their power to get rid of Edges.
   
 

SITES

  Cybermod Parlor
Very playable as a non-FSS, but with a questionable ability.  First off, you think wow, this card can protect my FSS, so it's great!  The problem with that is that Non-FSS are almost more valuable in the long term because of their fixed cost.  Often it's going to cost you less than 2 power to replace a FSS (and sometimes you are gaining power), so losing one doesn't hurt as bad.  Where this does step up to the plate is when protecting a hoser site that has been exposed, but even then, how long is Cybermod's 6 Body going to last?  You may very well wind up spending 2 power to get 2 sites ripped off of you, whereas if you had played this back row, it wouldn't be a target.

Simon Johnston adds:
     It has six body, which is nice (I bet some people won't notice, assuming it has 5)
--Yes, the +1 Body over the usual foundation sites does make a difference.  We were playing the other day, and the Infernal Temples and Abominable Labs were bouncing much more than the Parlors.

 

 

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