Name: Mystery Box
Commonality: Rare
Installationcost: 3
Type: Program - 1 MU
Game Text: [0]: Show the top five cards of your stack to the Corp. If any of those cards are programs, trash Mystery Box and then install one of those programs, at no cost. Shuffle your stack afterwards. Use this ability only during a run and only once each run.
Illustrator: Kevin Taylor
Sets: v1.0

Card Spotlight by Chris Wagner (Foolkiller)(was: Card of the Day #1)

Mystery Box is not for the weak-of-deck. This program can be a dream, but in the wrong deck it is a waste of space.

Since synergy seems to be a popular topic, let's consider that. This card needs to be used with high cost programs to balance out the cost of installing it. Also, if you choose to use the ability during a run and reveal an Invisibility, you've just wasted three bits for a free program. If Mystery Box is going to be in your deck, it needs to be complimented by high-cost programs. AI Boon springs to mind, but this card is limited to breaking sentry Ice. There are no wall or code gate breakers that intrinsicly warrant the use of Mystery Box. There are four programs which work in synergy with Mystery Box:

  1. Zetatech Software Installer
  2. Morphing Tool
  3. Fubar
  4. Cloak

Zetatech Software Installer may seem odd, but the idea here is to drop the cost of re-installing Mystery Box. My total package uses Microtech Backup Drive and Zetatech Software Installer to recycle my Mystery Boxes. At a cost of one bit and two actions I am ready to use the box again. Running an unprotected, or lightweight, fort allows the use of the Box until you have installed a full compliment of breakers.

Morphing Tool is the program of choice to use with Mystery Box. The reason is simple; Fubar cannot adapt to various forts, and so you must get three in play to make the suite complete. Morphing Tool can be adjusted to suit your opponent's forts, allowing greater freedom in the early game. We all know that this flexibility is important (thus the popularity of Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker). Using nothing but several copies of this program in your deck increases the chances of getting a full breaker suite early. As a tip, I use 5 copies in a 45 card deck. Make sure you install the first copy as a Sentry breaker to avoid getting flatlined. Walls and Code Gates tend to be much kinder in the early game.

Fubar may be a second choice program, but the cheaper "to break" cost may attract some users. The lower strength of the program is also a drawback, though used against a Liche, for example, the costs are equal to Morphing Tool.

Another program which is normally too expensive to use is Cloak. Mystery Box takes care of that for you. Two or three of these installed makes Morphing Tool even more attractive.

Another part of this total package is If You Want It Done Right... which allows you to set up for a Mystery Box run by having foreknowledge of the next four cards in your stack.

Mystery Box does have the disadvantage of exposing your deck to your opponent as you search for programs so don't try to pull off any sneaky stuff when using this tool to install your programs. If you tip a trick deck the Corp will find a way to foil you.

Another disadvantage is the possibility of wasting several runs and actions not getting your programs. This deck obviously takes some investment of time to set up, and wasting actions is not a real good idea.

On the economic side, since you are conserving bits by installing efficient high-cost programs for next-to-nothing, you don't need a real sophisticated bit engine to fuel your deck. Score! is more than adequate to supply you with bits, assuming you've taken my advice about the Cloaks! ;)

One final disadvantage, Mystery Box can't help you if you draw a program into your hand. You must avoid drawing as much as possible until you have installed all the programs you wish Mystery Box to supply for you. Here is where If You Want It Done Right... comes in handy again, and of course The Short Circuit is nice to help you find your Mystery Box quickly.

Overall Mystery Box is an excellent program with a very limited role in the game overall. Tuning a deck around it is a very sound strategy but it must be a completely dedicated deck. There is no room for cheap software here. I would not recommend putting this card into a deck just because "its neat."


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