I believe it is time to revisit this largely ignored piece of ice in the post-rotation, revised core, banned/restricted (post Eli 1.0) era. The basic premise is a piece of ice with a good rez to strength ratio, but the drawback of not forcing a specific breaker type. As such, it will not be universally useful, but 3 rez, 4 str, end the run ice provides enough value that we should consider situations where it might be useful. Some pros and cons:

Cons:

  • Can be broken by almost any breaker

Pros:

  • Great strength to rez ratio

  • End the run sub

  • Neutral, no influence cost

So in what sort of situation do the pros outweigh the single, major, con? The answer is when you want to build taxing servers. On its own, Rainbow is not something you should rely on to keep the runner out. But many glacier decks rely on taxing the runner and beating them with eventual economic advantage. So how does Rainbow stack up in such a deck? Pretty well actually. The reason being that it will cost 3 credits for the vast majority of commonly played breakers to break. So while the runner doesn't need to find a specific breaker to get through, none of the ones he or she is likely to use will be able to break it for less than its rez cost, which is a great feature in a piece of taxing ice. A few examples of break costs:

NORMAL BREAKERS:

Gordian Blade: 3

Paperclip: 3

Black Orchestra: 3

Mongoose: 5

Abagnale: 3

Shrike: 4

Yusef: 2 tokens

Inversificator: 3

Mimic: Needs str reduction

Refractor: 1 + 1 stealth

Switchblade: 2 stealth

Eater: 3

Cyber Cypher: 1 (pretty weak to this one)

Disposable Breakers: requires 4 collective str (probably easy to achieve in a deck that uses them)

WEIRD BREAKERS:

Lady: 1 + 1 Counter

D4v1d: No dice!

Aumakua: 1 (but must be at 4 counters)

Femme Fatale: 1 to bypass (but no one is going to Femme Rainbow)

Chameleon: Needs a str boost to break (or str reduction)

IDs:

Quetzel: Okay fine, you got me. Cool hair, by the way!

All told, that is a great taxing ability against a large portion of the likely field. It fills a similar role to rotated all-star Eli 1.0: cheap, taxing ice that you could rush out behind if you're feeling frisky, but that won't stop the runner for long if they just want a single access. Ice isn't there to be a self-contained solution; it exists as part of a larger strategy. And if that strategy involves taxing the runner, then Rainbow is worth a look.

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Rainbow is reasonably taxing to break, but these numbers neglect it’s hidden weakness; because almost everything breaks it, the runner never has to find and pay to install another breaker to get past it. If all I have resized are Enigmaand Rainbow, —
Whoops, phone posted when I didn’t want it to. If I want to keep the runner out, Enigma and Rainbow may tax less than Enigma and Vanilla, because Vanilla makes them find and install a fracter. It’s a nice taxing ICE to make a runner not want to come in repeatedly (maybe on HQ or for remote bait plays?). But you can’t rush behind it and it can’t protect R&D for high-impact runs due to its inability to gearcheck. To me, that makes it a REALLY situational card. —
That's a very good point about how even with 2 ice, if one of them is rainbow, they still only need the single breaker. I would agree that it is not good in a gearcheck role. But I think it still compares favorably with Eli 1.0. Eli also could not keep someone out (didn't need ANY breakers) but was taxing to run repeatedly. All told, I would not slot this into every deck, but there is a reasonable portion of decks that want to layer up taxing ice, and for that, I think it does quite well (for no inf to boot). —

This card creates some mixed feelings and really depends on the breakers you are running. For most rigs it means you save 1 cred per ICE (I ignore Stealth Breaker for this discussion), which means when you get it early enough it will save you the 3 creds you used to install it. But you also need a slot for it, so it should save you another 4 to become a sure gable. Will you break 8 ICE a game? Usually you will, so when you get it early it makes sense. On the other side as it is unique you don't want to have 3 offs in your deck and the other 2 become dead draws. So is it worth the deck slot when you see it late?
On the other hand, when you have rigs that have awkward strength boost like Lustig or Passport it might save you more then one cred on a piece of ICE, main problem is, this are mainly criminal breakers and are currently rarely imported into anarch, while the question is, can criminals include it into their decks?
On the other hand, currently we have the heap breaker (Paperclip, Black Orchestra & MKUltra) which beside of Paperclip have this 3 creds pump strength by 2 & break 2 subs. Especially against Fairchild 3.0 the first pump breaks nothing, similar ICE would be Ichi 1.0, Tollbooth, News Hound and Cortex Lock. So currently Ice Carver shines together with this breakers as for some ICE it will immediately save you 3 creds to break subs and you can see this is a great efficiency and within the anarch faction. So until these breakers rotate Ice Carver is a very strong econ card that can save you dozens of creds during a game. And it has to be seen as a pure econ card that can replace one Liberated Account in terms of value.

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What about scoring a Hostile Takeover 1 turn. Tutor it up with Fast Track let them steal Government Takeover and either Punitive Counterstrike their face, or get them tagged through Shadow or Data Raven or Hard-Hitting News or SEA Source or whatever other means. Then Exchange of Information it away from them, swapping Hostile Takeover or any other 3/1. Jam another Hostile Takeover, and ask why even bother in the first place. Some Hive, Vanilla, Enigma, or Mother Goddess to keep them from getting anything from R&D or HQ too early.

If they do heavy tagging might also just mean a nice BOOM! opportunity. A Ghost Branch would help facilitate this.

I think people are underselling this card. I agree that it doesn't work in most decks, such as Sol, but I think this card is pretty scary in one deck: Spark Agency: Worldswide Reach.

Let's get the disadvantage right out of the way: Your operations cost 1 more to play. This seems daunting, but there ARE ways to dance around the weakness. At first glance it seems to be, "Don't play operations at all" but I think this is a mistake. I think a better strategy is to cherry-pick your operations for maximum effect.

Operations You Don't Want

Raw Economy: Hedge Fund, IPO, Beanstalk Royalties, etc. If you use those with this current, you're doing it wrong. This makes your profit one less from all of these cards, making them way less efficient. Running something like Biased Reporting might be okay because it has a huge potential profit, but otherwise, you should steer clear from these.

Trace Cards: Hard-Hitting News, SEA Source, Hellion Beta Test, et al. The basic formula for MOST trace cards is trace=cost+1. With RB out, it becomes trace=cost. This pretty much sucks unless you have Primary Transmission Dish or the runner is so down on money that it doesn't matter anyway.

With about 50% of regular NBN operations disqualified, what's left?

Operations You Do want

Gotcha cards: Basically, operations that don't rely on an economic advantage to make full use of, or use efficiently, their effect. Hunter Seeker, Salem's Hospitality, Ad Blitz, Casting Call, etc. Sure, paying an extra credit to use your tech is kind of bad, but using Salem's Hospitality for 3 credits instead of 2 doesn't significantly affect the card in any terms of its ability.

So, what do you fill up your deck with now that you have 12+ slots open?

Well, if you're playing Spark Agency: Worldswide Reach, you fill up on as many Advertisements as you can. PAD Campaigns, Launch Campaigns, and CPC Generators will become your economy while actively draining theirs. Imagine an opening turn consisting of an Ad, CPC Generator, and Rolling Brownout. You rez one of them on your turn, then the next on the runner's. In order to play a measly Sure Gamble, the runner will have to click for credits 3 times and play it on their fourth click, while probably you gain a credit from CPC Generator. This is pretty great. If you want to go the FA root, you can trade your Biotics for Calibration Testings.

Overall, I think this current fils a great niche in Spark, even if it might not make it into other decks.

"PAD Campaigns, Launch Campaigns, and CPC Generators will become your economy while actively draining yours." Typo at the end of that sentence? —
Fixed! —
Newbie here, this was an interesting read, thanks. Also realized the implications with the agenda Rebranding Team (all assets gain advertisement). ... Looks like I've got a deck to build. —

4.1 made this a less insane mind game, but it's still good fun and an easy way to get agenda fodder.

What I really made this review about: Can we all agree that the little martian Arthur Dent in the art is adorable?