Silent ice: Parhelion preview

Reading time ~25 minutes

The Net is quiet tonight. Too quiet.

Greetings, rules enthusiasts!

In this short break from our regularly scheduled programming (work on the next main article is progressing, I promise), I have been granted the pleasure of revealing two of the cards from the upcoming Parhelion expansion for Netrunner. The NSG rules team have chosen two cards for me to preview, and with me today I also have Ruben Pieters from the rules team to enlighten us a bit about their work on Parhelion.


Update 2022-12-04: Endless Hunger was erroneously referred to as an AI breaker.

The cards

I won’t keep you hanging. Here are the two new cards; an Anarch program and a Jinteki upgrade. Both are concerned with ice, but in very different ways.


Nanisivik Grid


Hush is the first original design using the new Trojan subtype, with art by the inimitable Scott Uminga, who’ve illustrated several NSG cards in the past. NSG previously revealed that some existing cards will get errata to have this new subtype1, but Hush is the first card to have it from the start. Henceforth, this subtype will be on all runner programs that host themselves on ice. NSG has already said that Parhelion won’t contain any cards that reference the Trojan subtype directly, but future expansions might!

Hush is an anarch program that is hosted on ice, but it is not a virus (whis means it is tutorable by Kabonesa Wu). There are two previous examples of this, both in shaper: Kyuban and Egret. At only 1 influence and 1 cost, Hush is easily splashed in all kinds of decks as long as they have the memory to spare.

This is an extremely specific tool, that at first glance might seem to not do much, but could serve an important role as a tech card against the types of effects that Hunting Grounds is sometimes slotted for. (Keeping in mind that Hunting Grounds is one of the cards that will rotate from standard when the next set after Parhelion is released.) The effect of Hush is broader, applying not only to on encounter abilities, and you can benefit from it multiple times during a single turn. Unlike hunting grounds though, it requires extra work to be used against another card than the chosen one, since you must spend a click to move it.

Kyuban Hunting Grounds

To get an overview of what the potential for Hush could be, here are some of the ice in the current cardpool that have non-subroutine abilities:

  • All the usual Hunting Grounds targets like IP Block, Loki, Data Ward and Funhouse.
  • Anansi is a classic bugbear for runners; it’s become a bit of a meme how notoriously resistant to tech (including Hunting Grounds) it is. It’s still a formidable ice even without its on encounter ability, but at least you can now bypass it without taking 3 net damage, and using Boomerang to break only 2 subs is no longer a capital offence.
  • Border Control now has a worthy foe. With the threat of instant speed Hush if the runner has SMC or Simulchip out, the corp may feel pressured into firing the end the run ability directly after rezzing, losing the luxury of letting the runner pay through all the ice in front of the server before kicking them out.
  • While on rez effects like Anemone, Bulwark and Formicary are harder to target accurately, a savvy Hush install on an unrezzed card can make certain runs much less dangerous.
  • Afshar is a popular HQ ice that becomes much less taxing without the mandatory lose 2 subroutine. The same goes for other “good on a particular server” ice like Winchester and Bathynomus.
  • Akhet, Colossus, Pharos and other advanceable ice lose a sizeable chunk of their appeal when non-subroutine text is removed. Blindly installing Hush on an unrezzed ice with advancement counters is quite likely to do at least some damage. (Unless they’re just keeping them there for Trick of Light…)

Border Control Akhet

  • Not all AI hate is on encounter like IP Block. Hush hits a wider range of AI hate cards like Chiyashi and Wraparound, both of which pose problems for a deck which relies heavily on AI breakers (which is admittedly few in the current Endurance-dominated meta).
  • Is this a final chance for Endless Hunger to shine before rotating next year?2
  • Cards like Envelopment, Konjin and Blockchain are almost completely turned off by Hush.
  • We can finally trash Lotus Field with Parasite. Sweet revenge.
  • On the flip side, unwisely installing Hush on biorids (or F2P) will bereave the runner of the option to break them with clicks. This is an unlikely occurrence since no bioroids have other non-subroutine abilities that you would want to remove, but a misjudged install on an unrezzed card could spell disaster in some niche scenarios.
  • Illicit ice is another nonbo, allowing the corp to completely avoid the downside of rezzing powerful cards like Trebuchet.
  • If for any reason you happen to access Archangel or Chrysalis while installed, Hush will save you from the forced encounter. If this ever happens to you, you shall most certainly receive the Logic Bomb Most Obscure Interactions award and be forever remembered as one of the premier scientists of Netrunner.

Anansi Archangel

There’s also Engram Flush and Gold Farmer, which will rotate from Startup when Parhelion releases however, and won’t be played alongside Hush. But if they should ever be unbanned in Standard, this interaction could become important. Also on the current ban list are Kakugo and Slot Machine, which are both vulnerable to Hush.

Finally, there’s of course Magnet which… Yeah actually I have no idea how that works. Check out the interview instead.

Nanisivik Grid

Nanisivik is an abandoned mining town in Canada, currently being used as a naval refuelling station. You can see the resemblance to the card, which is illustrated by Emilio Rogriguez, one of Netrunner’s most prolific illustrators with 67 cards to his name prior to Parhelion. (Wow!) What Jinteki are up to out there is anybody’s guess.

With this card, you can engage in all kinds of mischief which wasn’t previously as easily available. Like Marcus Batty before it, Nanisivik Grid interferes with the fundamental assumption that the corp can’t proactively fire subroutines. It’s conditional, of course, and there is counterplay; it dies to Pinhole Threading, or you can run archives to flip all the facedowns and reduce your vulnerability to this upgrade. But will it always be practical to do that? Probably not.

Marcus Batty

Nanisivik Grid represents a very broad range of threats; any upgrade installed in a server now indicates a whole host of potential headaches for the runner, as long as there are facedown cards in archives. It’s a fun card because it asks us to reconsider a lot of older cards with interesting effects but which may not have quite cut it as a complete package. Some of these may now get a second chance as bearers of that one specific subroutine that you really need in your combo deck, even if they don’t really make sense to install and rez.

  • Anything that ends the run also prevents the grid itself from being trashed, so if it is central to your game plan, it might even make sense to install one on archives to protect your facedowns, which are becoming more and more valuable a resource lately. It’s not unique, so you can protect several servers at once with it.
  • Cards like Anansi and Sadaka are already good on R&D. Now you can access their sorting effects without installing or rezzing them. Similarly, Gatekeeper has a sub that is very useful on HQ runs.
  • All kinds of rigshooting, like Rototurret or Stavka, are now available at arm’s length. Or even Zed 2.0, if you want to sink a boat.
  • It can be a deadly trap with subroutines that deal damage. Bathynomus deals 3 damage unconditionally, for example.
  • For lockout and combo decks, the ability to take away a click from the runner can be very useful. Enigma is the obvious choice since that’s run in many decks already, but if we’re not paying the rez cost anyway, why not Nightdancer?
  • Meridian is a funny one. Stock Buy-Back is still in rotation.
  • Remember that one month when everyone obsessed about Metamorph?

Meridian Formicary

  • If you want to kill the runner, Mlinzi is less reliable than Bathynomus, but for a grinder deck, that third sub might look attractive.
  • You get to fire big subs without paying the big rez cost. Hydra, Bulwark and Týr all have high impact subs, but Tithonium has a rare combination of end the run + substantial tempo hit in a single sub, which could be very valuable.
  • If you want to be even more obnoxious, you can combine Navisivik Grid with Formicary to make it trigger multiple times in a single run, just like you can with Manegarm Skunkworks. Unlike Skunkworks though, Navisivik consumes a resource each time you use it, so you need a lot of puzzle pieces in place for that one.
  • You can use cards like Herald and Otoroshi to power up traps just before the runner accesses them, without them having a chance to jack out. In addition to having to keep an eye out for preadvanced Reconstruction Contracts out of Ob, you now have a new threat that can turn a naked remote with two facedown cards into 5 net damage.
  • As an honorable mention, a facedown Ravana in archives allows you to fire any sub on your installed and rezzed bioroids as well. Architects of Tomorrow decks which run lots of ice to begin with could have a bit of fun with a cheeky Navisivik splash (it’s only 2 influence after all).

Bathynomus Tithonium


Hi! Who are you?
Hey! I am Ruben Pieters.

What is your role on the rules team?
I am a rules associate. The main work I’m involved in is the finalizing of the card text of new cards, updates to the Comprehensive Rules (CR), creating the rulings on NRDB, and the revisiting of older card text in the Card Text Updates (CTU). This work is all done collaboratively with the other rules team members, as we rarely have tasks that only 1 person works on.

What was it like writing the card text and rules for Parhelion?
I joined the rules team a bit over 2 years ago and have worked on the text/rules of System Gateway, System Update, and Midnight Sun. So, I am used to the process by now. We had a few tough cards to handle, especially considering the tight deadline compared to Midnight Sun’s release. But all things considered, I do think it went rather smoothly.

What is your favorite thing about working on the NSG rules team?
There are two main aspects I love about it. First, I like that I am able to help and contribute to the amazing Netrunner community with something that matches with my skill set. Second, I also generally like experimenting with and designing rules systems for games. I have messed around with some pet game design projects that ended up with me mostly trying to figure out how the rules systems should work for it before even designing the first card. While I had a lot of fun, I do not recommend this approach if you would like to actually release a game.

What area of the rules would you like to see expanded in the future?
Some area I would like to spend a bit more time in is seeing how we can bring more advanced rules understanding to the general Netrunner community, while not being as difficult to approach as the CR. There are many cases where decent knowledge of the rules can provide a competitive advantage, so I would like for this knowledge to be broadly accessible.

What area of the rules is in the most need of cleanup, in your opinion?
There is a rule that has had a bit of discussion in the team, that I also personally don’t like very much: 9.1.8b3. The rule is aimed at making sure abilities are active, for abilities that would otherwise not work correctly because they are inactive. The problem is that the rule is written in a sort of catch-all way, but as a result is very ambiguous and unclear. There are also cases when trying to interpret it literally it creates situations where it doesn’t really work as intended. In that way it’s a bit similar to the no change in game state rule (NCIGS or 1.2.5)4.

Do you ever get tired of the silly stuff design throws at you?
Not really. As a player I’m a big sucker for cards with justified complicated designs, for example Ob: Superheavy Logistics. I also love taking a complex design and transforming it into a simpler rules-equivalent form while capturing the same design feel. Secretly I’m encouraging the complex designs, but don’t tell any of my teammates.

What’s your favorite Netrunner card?
Although I generally play rather straightforward decks when I play tournaments, when building decks myself I like cards that make me rethink the basic deck building principles. A card that I was experimenting a lot with during Ashes was Hivemind, allowing you to use Chisel to instantly destroy ice. Once System Gateway came out we then also had the awesome Hivemind MaxX deck of course.

Next up, some questions specifically about Hush, a card which lets the runner surgically target specific ice and turn their abilities off.

Hivemind Magnet

Who would win in a fight? Hush or Magnet?
There’s quite a bit of history on how we ended up on the final card text, if we had the time we’d probably still be debating which alternative to choose. But at some point we had to make a decision on what text to put on it for the release. The main axis of debate was where to hide the complexity of the interaction with Magnet and Hush. We had two instructions by the development team: it should be simple to determine from the board state which one of the two wins without needing to know the history of previous board states, and it would preferably be Hush. We could technically write the ability so it isn’t affected by Magnet but that blew up the card text significantly. One approach we considered involved an interrupt when Hush would be hosted to blank the ice before Hush is hosted on it.

In the end we went with an almost opposite approach where you essentially need some CR knowledge to know how they interact: Hush always wins. I initially wanted to find another way to handle it, but in the end I agree that this was the best out of the alternatives we had in mind. I did want to make sure that we are looking at adding general rules for handling static abilities interacting with each other, and not only have a rule that essentially says ‘Hush beats Magnet’. This way these interactions can become the kind of knowledge a player can reason about instead of yet another special case in the rules.

Looking for ways to write the Hush text and how to make it work in the CR has forced us to think a bit more about static abilities and in which order those should be applied to the game state. In Magic there is the layer system5, which determines the ordering of how those abilities should be applied. In a way we need something similar, but we don’t need something as complex. We would also like to avoid needing to know the timestamp ordering, as it is an additional complexity that doesn’t add much interesting gameplay elements. What we’re developing right now is rules to determine the dependency ordering, which results in determining the ordering of how those static abilities should be applied. This does mean that we’ll need some special cases to resolve cycles of static abilities affecting each other, like the case of Magnet and Hush. In those cases, the static ability from the hosted object should be applied first.

Do you have a favorite niche usage of the card?
If a Tithonium is unrezzed, you can install a Hush on it. When the Tithonium is rezzed afterwards, the ability that makes it unable to host cards is lost and you can host all your other Trojans on it as well!


Trojans host themselves on ice. Hypothetically, if a runner card hosts itself on another corp card than ice, would it still have the Trojan subtype? Would a non-program hosting itself on ice have it?
The exact meaning and intention behind subtypes is actually more a responsibility of the narrative team. Jamie, the rules lead, usually works together with Anzekay to work those things out. I don’t think a non-program being hosted on ice will be a thing as physical things aren’t really able to be hosted on netspace entities/objects. I would think then, as a result, anything hosting itself on something else than ice would also have a different subtype, as it represent something different from a narrative point of view.

Hush benefits from expose. Can we expect more expose in Parhelion or other future sets?
From what I’ve seen from Parhelion I don’t think Hush is intended to come with a new set of expose cards. While it is obviously strong to blank an on-rez effect by hosting Hush on an unrezzed ice, I think it is more intended as a reactionary tool for a Runner to deal with ice that has powerful abilities. For example, if you’re a Deep Dive deck and want to make sure you are able to get through a Border Control. Personally I think the game is more fun when players can use their deduction skills to decide how to utilize their tools instead of relying on sure bets by exposing everything.

“Host ice cannot gain abilities and loses all abilities”. Why are both these clauses needed? Doesn’t “lose all abilities” cover all of it? Could it not just say “host ice has no abilities”?
The thing we wanted to explicitly clarify with this text is that subroutines can in no way be added even when applying a ‘lose abilities’ effect first and then applying any ‘gain abilities’ effects afterwards, like Warden Fatuma. The way we’re planning to write the updated CR rules, it is indeed not strictly necessary. But we prefer players to be able to figure out interactions via card text as much as possible rather than having to rely on a resource outside of the game like the CR. On the other hand, we won’t be updating everything (yet) with the full ‘and cannot gain abilities’ text if there’s no way to make it relevant.

Warden Fatuma

Will the retroactive trojan cards get their errata with the release of Parhelion or later with the remastered gateway?
We intend to release a CTU update with Trojan errata together with the upcoming Parhelion CR update.

Nanisivik Grid is a dangerous new card that gives the corp a new type of agency over the subroutines of their ice, which previously have tended to be at the mercy of the runner. It also opens up new rules considerations, now that ice can fire their subs while lying uninstalled and unrezzed in archives.

Were there any interesting iterations on the rules text for the card? Were there any complications?
The text on Nanisivik only went through very minor rules iterations. Initially it used to reveal the ice as well, but is kind of redundant if you are flipping it faceup. The resolving from Archives did have some investigation work involved on making sure that nothing can break the game this way. But after having a look at the possibilities, it looked like we’d only need to make some minor CR tweaks here and there.

Do you have a favorite niche usage of the card?
One of my favorite interactions I thought of so far is with Anemone, trashing an ice just-in-time to resolve exactly what you need. We can build Mti at home! I’m also convinced there’s gonna be some attempts to create Meridian + Nanisivik decks, and I’m excited to see what comes out of that.

What’s the funniest sub to execute not during an encounter? Any silly interactions?
I think the amount of silliness you can do is rather limited, especially compared to some of the Ganked! weirdness that is possible when resolving subroutines outside of a run. That said, a maybe somewhat silly interaction is to place an ice which modifies the next encounter at the innermost position, let’s say Chum, and then use Ganked! to make the modification apply to the next Ganked! encounter during that run.

Ganked! Chum

How does self references to the source ice work?
A reference to “this ice” would work if it were in a context that makes sense in Archives, like the Meridian subroutine. The current references to “this ice” in subroutines are mostly limited to trashing/derezzing the ice or placing counters on it, which does not do anything in Archives.

If you install a piece of ice using the first subroutine of Bloom, what does “another server” mean?
In that case “another server” refers to any server that is not Archives. Similarly “this server” refers to Archives, for example when you resolve Border Control’s first subroutine.

If you install a piece of ice using the second subroutine of Bloom, what does “the next innermost position, protecting this server” mean?
Ice does not have a position in Archives, so the subroutine is referring to a location that cannot be determined. In short: the subroutine does nothing.

If you install a piece of ice using the first subroutine of Brân 1.0, what does “directly inward from this ice” mean?
Ice does not have a position in Archives, so the subroutine is referring to a location that cannot be determined. In short: the subroutine does nothing.

Bloom Brân 1.0

Can you place a counter on Free Lunch in the archives?
In the current draft of the CR you can technically place a counter on it. But it will be removed immediately in the next checkpoint. There shouldn’t be a situation where it matters, but we’ll have to see if we keep it that way in the end.

(I’m sure that will come up one day.)

If you fire the Mind Game subroutine and win the psi game, does “instead of passing mind game” mean that the effect can’t resolve, or do you simply ignore that part?
Yeah, that part essentially doesn’t do anything as you aren’t passing the ice. Similarly to how it would work if you run into the subroutine with a Ganked!

Are the values for X on cards like Surveyor and NEXT Sapphire calculated as normal or do they default to 0 because the ability that gives them their values is not active in archives?
The latter, the ability to determine their X strength value is not active and thus is 0. We’ll be adding an explicit clarification for that in the Parhelion CR.

Does Sand Storm work with Nanisivik Grid?
No, the subroutine only works while installed. We’ll be updating the text of Sand Storm in the CTU to make that clear explicitly.

Mind Game Sand Storm

Let’s round off with a few questions about rules and the rules team more generally.

With facedown cards in archives becoming more and more of a focus with these last few sets (all the way back to ashes), has there been a need to reconsider how they are treated by the rules? For example, when cards are faceup in archives, then turned facedown again, does the runner have the right to continue to know which cards are which, like facedowns in remote servers?
CR1.6 already has an answer specifically for the situations with Archives. Archives is an unordered zone, and can be rearranged freely. So the Runner does not need to be kept up-to-date on which facedown card is which.

Will there be a CR 1.7 released with Parhelion? Any fun changes incoming?
Yes, we aim to release a CR update with Parhelion. Related to the previous question, we are adding more clarifications on how sets of secret cards should be handled. For example, when the Runner knows 1 card on top of R&D, and the corp has Daily Business Show rezzed, should the Runner know which card went to HQ or not? HQ is an unordered zone, but the set aside zone where the card temporarily resides while the corp is deciding is neither explicitly ordered or unordered. In the new rules we’d like to make sure that each relevant situation in the game like this has a concrete answer.

Are there cards in Parhelion that required the rules team to make an extra effort? (could answer obliquely, or maybe name the cards directly if they have already been spoiled at this point?)
There is Zato City Grid, which has some similar implications to subroutines like Nanisivik Grid. The investigation work was mostly shared for Zato and Nanisivik, but it contains a slight additional complexity. We need to make sure it is clear how to handle references, because the ice is moving due to the trash. “This server” on a subroutine like Border Control will refer to the server it was trashed from, similar to other wordings like Ganked!

Has Parhelion been more or less of a challenge rules wise than previous NSG sets?
I’d say that Parhelion is probably the smoothest so far. We did not have a big CR overhaul like with System Gateway, Midnight Sun had new keywords and Ob. In Parhelion we had a few troublemakers, but overall the cards were relatively simple. And we already had our precedent on how to handle the new keywords from Midnight Sun.

With the CR being more mature now, do you feel like you have some breathing room as you design towards a more concrete framework, or is it becoming harder to add new mechanics to an already heavily saturated body of rules?
Adding small concepts, like new tweaks or smaller rules is easier in an established framework. For example, the new Midnight Sun keywords were fairly simple additions once we did the work of ironing out the ins and outs of how they should work exactly. Once we need to tackle larger refactor/cleanups, like we would eventually like to do with the NCIGS rule it is more difficult than with an empty slate. In that case we need to make sure the thing doesn’t collapse and doesn’t result in inconsistencies or we don’t unexpectedly introduce unintended interactions for no reason.

Finally, I’ve saved the most important questions for last…

Bacterial Programming

Was Bacterial Programming a mistake?
In my personal opinion, it does feel a bit unrefined. The ability is cool, but also more complex than it needs to be for what it is actually trying to do. For example, I think they could’ve left out the trashing part and still keep the same feeling behind the card. I’d say that the overall rules impact overall is still not as heavy as a card like Ganked! But the issue is that Bacterial Programming in Archives is a bit of a mess to explain, which is a rather common occurrence in actual play. The weird Ganked! situations usually don’t come up in regular Netrunner play, besides maybe specifically making a Ganked! loop deck.

When will you announce the removal of the NCIGS rule?

Alright, on a more serious note, there is still a bunch of investigation work we’d like to do before we feel confident on actually being able to remove the rule. Some of the groundwork has been laid on making it easier to transition to, like the targeting rules. I committed myself to spend more time than I have been on advancing that investigation next year, so hopefully we’ll be able to see some more progress on that front.

It’s happening!

Does the Nanisivik building look like a whale or a shark?
I think the proportions and the shape look like a whale, the building also doesn’t have anything that would correspond to the shark fin. But somehow the lighting in the mouth and on the eyes makes it look menacing like a shark to me.

Personally, I can’t stop thinking about the whales from Riven. There was already a Myst reference in Midnight Sun wasn’t there…

Nanisivik Grid

Riven whale

Thank you so much for your time Ruben Pieters and the NSG rules team! You’ve been very generous with your time. Parhelion is expected to be released digitally on December 9 and the print version will be available on December 12. I’ll be there, of course, ready to ask all the deep questions and study the new CR obsessively so you don’t have to.


This article uses the NSG Comprehensive Rules Document version 1.6, which was released on 22 July 2022. Note that the upcoming CR 1.7 might recontextualize or invalidate some of the theorycrafting in this article.

Rules mentioned:
Chapter 1: Game Concepts
1.2.5 (p.5)

Chapter 9: Abilities
9.1.8b (p.86)

Cards mentioned:
Kabonesa Wu
Hunting Grounds
IP Block
Data Ward
Border Control
Trick of Light
Endless Hunger
Lotus Field
Engram Flush
Gold Farmer
Slot Machine
Marcus Batty
Pinhole Threading
Zed 2.0
Stock Buy-Back
Manegarm Skunkworks
Reconstruction Contract
Architects of Tomorrow
Warden Fatuma
Brân 1.0
Free Lunch
Mind Game
NEXT Sapphire
Sand Storm
Bacterial Programming

Nanisivik, Wikipedia article
Pictures of Nanisivik
Scott Uminga, illustrator
Netrunner cards by Scott Uminga
Emilio Rodriguez, illustrator
Netrunner cards by Emilio Rodriguez
Remastering System Gateway, NSG blog post
Layer system, MTG Wiki article


Thanks to Ruben Pieters for answering way too many questions, and to the NSG rules team for sharing some of their scoops with me.



  2. Keep dreaming. 

  3. CR 9.1.8b Abilities stating that they are active in a particular zone are active in that zone. Abilities that can only ever meet their conditions in a particular zone are active in that zone. Abilities that can only affect the game state from a particular zone are active in that zone. When determining whether these stipulations apply, refer only to the game rules, not to any other effects that may be changing how cards move between zones. 

  4. CR 1.2.5 A player can only take an action or use an ability if its effect has the potential to change the game state. This potential is assessed strictly by what the action or ability can be expected to accomplish, without regard to the consequences of paying any costs to initiate that action or ability and without regard to any other abilities that may meet their conditions in the process of initiating or resolving that action or ability. See my previous article for a full exploration of this topic. 


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