Part 17: Middle class just flew byMiddle class just flew by
I did this entire update in one afternoon of playing. It wouldn't even be fair to call it grinding, since I was just aiming for maxing out my reputation again.
Middle class lifestyle opens us up to rating 11 software and hardware showing up in the market, and a max special order rating of 10. Time to incrementally update our deck!
A single successful mission brings us up to the next reputation level: Cyber Thief. We're not just a hacker anymore; our cyberdeck is as much a part of us as our arms and legs.
I start buying up rating 11 hardware as it appears.
And for reference, this is our typical software loadout upon starting our Middle Class lifestyle. Notice how the only goon-named piece of 'ware left is Wrench.exe. Everything's getting replaced with better programs found on servers.
We're also getting into the upper half of target servers. The range goes from rating 7 to rating 13 now, and as our rep increases, we'll drop the 7's in favor of 14's. With hardware maxed at 11 and software at "whatever we can find", we're definitely lagging behind the curve.
Fortunately, our Attack and Defense still more than make up for it in combat, so we blow through any mission that's not flagged N or T. Soon enough we advance to Cyber Sleuth. Whatever that means.
It isn't long before all our contracts are for rating 10+ servers. It's a miracle when we succeed at anything except combat (even Analyzing a piece of IC takes more than 20 tries on average), but we're so good at combat that we can just shrug off a node full of attack IC while our Area Attack clears them out. It's rare that we lose our Shield, let alone get dumped.
We also meet the upgrade to Tapeworm IC: the Data Bomb. Data Bombs not only erase the encrypted file when they spot you trying to access them, but they also attack as they do so. Fortunately, we're so beastly that if we take damage at all, it's only 5%. They're much more dangerous to stealth deckers who botch a Decrypt check.
By now, every piece of paydata we score is between 100 and 150 nuyen. If you take the time to clear out an entire server, it adds up fast.
After Cyber Sleuth comes Cyber Warrior, a much more befitting moniker for Slowjack.
At this point, the rating 12 servers start showing up regularly.
Nothing beats finding firmware source code better than what's available in the market. Especially if it's for your CPU.
Naturally, what's better than a Cyber Warrior than a Cyber WIZARD! This makes the rating 13 servers show up more often, and rarely a rating 14 server.
But back on a rating 12 server, we find the next Trace IC iteration: Trace & Fry. These assholes will try a secondary trace that fries your chips, which is a bastard move. Of course, like all the other IC in the game, if you've been successfully traced once, you've already lost.
Cyber Wizard is the reputation cap for Middle Class. You know what that means! Or maybe not. Anyway, here's a status update:
Our combat software has gotten a lot of upgrades. Unfortunately Decrypt is useless in our unskilled hands, so I dropped it in favor of a piercing attack program. By now, Hardened IC show up often enough to be an issue. Buckler 2.3 means I never, ever take damage; getting dumped is a thing of the past. Hide 11 and Smoke 10 mean I can sneak by portal gateways more often than not, not that it matters because Area Attack 11 just shreds IC to pieces. Unfortunately, Silence 7 is only good for one turn of silence, and it's starting to fail more often, so red alerts are basically unavoidable.
We've maxed out our rep, and we've got plenty of nuyen to upgrade our lifestyle. Attack and Defense are just one off their practical max, too.
Our deck goes up to eleven now, with an extra boost from source codes for our CPU, Attack, and Defense chips. We've got every piece of optional hardware, too, though not all at their best ratings available.
Once again we're at a crossroads. The box has told me to consult the thread, so here are the options:
Option A: Blow This SoyPop Stand - With our reputation maxed out, it's time to move up in the world. That means a real house, with matching furniture that didn't come from IKEA. Not to mention real food. Real food! Fresh fruit and vegetables, real coffee, never having to taste soy again! Not to mention the prestige; we're not just 'getting by' as a decker, we're the real deal. Talented, successful, respected. Other deckers wanting to be like us, even girls wanting to get with us!
Option B: Stay on Target - We're close, so close. We've got the nuyen, we've got the hardware. But there's still room for improvement with our skills. We're not quite the best around. Let's hit 25 with Attack and Defense, then move up with complete confidence.
Option C: The Box Whispers - Are you mad? We blew through this lifestyle way too fast! We're still getting skill points, aren't we? That means we grind on! Do you have any idea what home ownership means? It means a MORTGAGE! It means PROPERTY TAXES! It means maintaining a fake SIN! You know what's NOT scary? Rent receipts, and the comfort of the box to fall back on. Trust the box. All is peace and serenity in the box.