A Study in Static is the fourth small expansion for Android: Netrunner and is the fourth data pack in the Genesis Cycle, a series of six small expansions for the game. It adds twenty new cards to the game – these cards are contained in triplicate in the pack so you have a full playset of the cards for deckbuilding purposes.

Here are the five things you really need to know about Android: Netrunner – A Study in Static – at least, these were the features that leaped out at me.

1. Runners get a powerful new economic engine.
Underworld Contact is a neutral resource that costs two credits to play. Once it’s in play, when your turn begins, you gain a credit if you have at least two Link. This is almost an automatic three-of in a Kate McCaffrey deck and will find a home in quite a few other runner decks as well.

The power of this card is that it makes Link still useful even if you’re not facing a corporation that’s going to be running traces against you. There are many corporation decks against which Link doesn’t really do anything at all because that corporation isn’t interested in running traces. With Underworld Contact, playing a Link-boosting card isn’t a waste because it turns on this very powerful money-making engine.

The obvious comparison here is with the Corporation card PAD Campaign, which has the same effect of giving the player a credit each turn. However, in PAD Campaign’s case, the Corporation has to devote a server to it and protect it in some fashion to generate income from it. In Underworld Contact’s case, the only protection you need is to ensure that you avoid getting tagged.

I haven’t glanced at Kate in quite a while. This card alone made me build a new Kate deck, and I’m loving it. I’m wishing I had more copies of Underworld Contact for my other decks, too.

2. The Criminal sub-theme of derezzing ice gets a boost.
The ability to derez a piece of ice is apparently becoming a Criminal theme. The last expansion, Cyber Exodus, gave the Criminals the rather powerful Emergency Shutdown, while this expansion gives them the similarly powerful Crescentus.

Crescentus gives Criminals (and other runners who want to spend a faction point) a program that costs a single memory unit and one credit to play. It has a pretty impressive ability, though – you can trash it to derez a piece of ICE that you’ve broken through.

This has two effects. First, it enables runners to drastically reduce the threat of strong ICE provided they can break through it once. Even better, it causes Corporations to think twice about even utilizing heavy hitter ICE because they know that if the runner can break through it, they’re going to have to pay the steep cost of rezzing that ICE again. A Corporation player is going to have to think seriously about whether rezzing Tollbooth is worth it when the Runner has a code gate breaker out there alongside Crescentus.

3. Haas-Bioroid gets to dip its toes in deck thinning
Green Level Clearance is a 1-cost Operation (of subtype Transaction) that rewards the player of the card with three credits and a card draw.

On the surface, this card seems pretty dull. Why would you spend a card slot in your deck on a card that just profits you two credits once?

The catch is in the “draw a card” portion of the text. Effectively, this card turns a 49 card Corporation deck into 46 cards for the Corporate player. When you play this card, you don’t just get the two credits – you get another card in your hand to replace it, immediately.

Green Level Clearance essentially “vanishes” into the mix, as it effectively means that a couple times during the game, you can spend an action to gain two bits. That’s powerful. That makes a corporation deck more consistent than before without reducing the card count.

Remember that as a Corporation player, a lower card count (45 versus 49, for example) means a higher proportion of Agendas in your deck, which means that a Runner has a better chance at snagging an Agenda when they run against your library or your hand. In exchange for that higher proportion, you get a more consistent deck. Green Level Clearance essentially lets you have it both ways – it allows a 48 card deck to play with the consistency of a 45 card deck, or a 49 card deck play with the consistency of 46. It’s a surprisingly powerful boon.

4. The best ICE in the game are now available to Corporations on the first turn.
Oversight AI is a Weyland operation that costs just one credit, but it lets the Corporate player rez a piece of ICE of their choice immediately without paying any costs. There is a drawback to this, of course – if the Runner manages to bust through it, you lose the ICE.

However, if you manage to rez a copy of, say, Archer on the first turn, the Runner is going to have a hard time breaking through that card for quite a while. It’s going to cost them a pretty penny to defeat it, giving you several early turns to run shenanigans behind that ICE.

Sure, you’re going to eventually lose that ICE when the Runner is finally able to handle it, but with something brutal like Hadrian’s Wall or Toolbooth or particularly Archer, you’re going to slow the Runner down to a crawl during the early turns. Sneak through a Project Atlas or another nasty Agenda and you’re going to be sitting pretty very early in the game.

5. Click denial is starting to become a theme for both sides, but the Corporation gets a fascinating tool.
False Lead is a neutral Agenda that costs three advancement to score and is worth one agenda point, but it has a pretty brutal ability. The Corporation can sacrifice False Lead at any time to cause the Runner to lose two clicks – half of their turn, in other words.

A single False Lead, timed correctly, can devastate a Runner’s turn. Two False Leads sacrificed can become an extra turn for the Runner, enabling him to score something like Priority Requisition or even Mandatory Upgrades without any interference at all.

Click denial is starting to emerge as an interesting subtheme across several cards, but I consider this to perhaps be the most interesting card of all. It can really create some devastating situations and choices.

Overall Thoughts
From my perspective, the first three Android: Netrunner expansions mostly expanded on themes already present in the Core Set. Sure, there were a few odd cards that touched on other themes, but the sets almost entirely expanded upon themes that were already strong with the initial core set.

A Study in Static, however, seems to take many of the factions in somewhat new directions. There are very few cards that easily fit into the pre-existing deck types from the Core Set and earlier expansions.

For players who just want more cards for the decks they’ve already built, A Study in Static might be rather disappointing. In fact, if you’re buying your first Data Pack after picking up the Core Set, A Study in Static should be the last one you pick.

On the other hand, if you enjoy trying out new and novel approaches to the game and want to build decks that try new tactics such as click denial and Runner ICE management, A Study in Static is going to provide you with quite a few interesting tools. In terms of building decks that feel fresh to me, A Study in Static is the best data pack yet.