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Since fourth directive came out, Adam players got to choose which 3 directives to pick at the start of the game. There are 4 options:

  1. Always Be Running
  2. Safety First
  3. Neutralize All Threats
  4. Find the Truth

There are 2 main factors that affect this decision:

  1. Corp ID
  2. Runner deck composition

Let's focus on Corp IDs for simplicity's sake. If one understands why each directive is good or bad vs certain ID by itself, the task of re-evaluating it based on supporting cards is much easier. But if presence of some other cards in runner's deck drastically affect the answer, feel free to point that out.

How do you assess which directives to pick (or, rather, which one to omit) based on corporate ID you see?

Say, when facing Controlling the Message ID runner probably doesn't want to Neutralize All Threats, because that will surely get them tagged. On the other hand, CtM decks are very likely to pack Hard-Hitting News, so one wouldn't want to Always Be Running either. So what should a runner do?

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Safety first - Avoid this when playing against Sync, you will have a much harder time surviving BOOM! with a 3 card hand size. The same is true for Jinteki and Weyland IDs in general, most of the damage in the game is in one of these two factions, so the reduced hand size helps the corp to flatline.

Always Be running - Weyland has some of the biggest ice strength wise in the game, and they have very cheap ways to res this ice. Though neither side of this is as good as it once was, the runner lost e3 Feedback Implants and Weyland lost Oversight AI, Priority Construction still makes it very easy to rez space ice, like making Wormhole free. That click to break ability can help a lot here. That forced first run every can be a problem however, particularly against Jinteki due to traps that work in archives like Breached Dome or Shi.Kyū. When playing against Haas-Bioroid, particularly IDs like Architects of Tomorrow this can be redundant.

Neutralize All Threats - Like you said in your question, Controlling the Message punishes trashes, being forced to trash the first card you access can really make that hurt. Punishing trashes is starting to be more common in general, with cards like Wake Up Call, but CtM on the ID is worse due to consistency. There isn't much else ID wise that will let you know that trashing is going to be a bad thing.

Find the Truth - This one is relatively safe in general, no major upside, no major downsides with regards to the corp you face. The corp knowing what's in the grip shouldn't matter unless your deck has an unusual gimmick they will now know to play around, but knowing when it's worth making a run on R&D definitely can help.

For some matchups two of the directives are an issue, like you mention for CtM, that's why Adam needs Dr. Lovegood. Or perhaps he could pawn off his bad directives to Aesop. Just remember the good comes with the bad in directives, you can't just shut off the downside.

There are ways to play around these situations, For instance I've Had Worse or Beach Party can help offset the downside of Safety First, but for the purposes of this question we're looking at the corp, not the runner, and building around the objectives makes it harder to switch them based on the corp, Beach Party's click loss can really be an issue if you aren't getting the free draw from Safety First to offset, for instance.

  • I don't buy this reasoning about Safty First at all. If you get hit by BOOM! there is no difference if you had 3 or 5 cards in hand (disregarding additional damage prevention effects ofc). And those factions have a lot of smaller damage sources too, especially Jinteki, so Safty First draws will be very helpful in those matchups. – Deo Feb 2 '18 at 15:44
  • @Deo Safety first against my PU deck will have your hand size down to two cards (Enforced Curfew), that makes a single snare lethal if you're at or below max hand size. As for boom, the difference is the amount of damage prevention effects you need to handle the hits. At max hand size of 3, boom will eat up your whole hand and a full Plascrete Carapace (or the legal equivalent Jarogniew Mercs if you had no tags other then the one you get for install when you installed it) at 5 cards you are left with some hand and/or counters. – Andrew Feb 2 '18 at 16:13
  • @Deo In addition 3 card hand size means I can empty your hand with three houses of knives if I had scored them (I have had games where I had all three by turn six) making any other unprevented damage the lethal hit, or more likely the house of knives lethal after you take the first point from any ice. – Andrew Feb 2 '18 at 16:15
  • @Deo and remember the safety first draw is at end of turn, not the beginning, so if you played anything on your turn and didn't draw back up manually, you will be getting that draw from just playing the game, you don't need to take damage to trigger it. – Andrew Feb 2 '18 at 16:17
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I'm not aware of any public dataset that could be used to answer this question well. That said, I don't see anything amazing happen to Adam's competitive winrate after FTT came out (Intervention pack): http://www.knowthemeta.com/Cards/Adam:%20Compulsive%20Hacker/, which could either mean a) it doesn't matter much, b) people in general are not good enough at choosing to beat the 3 original Directives, or c) we don't have enough data. It would be very interesting if someone at jnet were to publish Adam's winrate grouped by corp ID and Directive choices.

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    I would wager C. Adam isnt used competitively enough for real data based answers, particularly by those playing competitively. The other answer is also that players build around the directive choice, so switching mid event doesnt help. – Andrew Feb 6 '18 at 2:48

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