- The rules don't specify whether you're permitted to know what your random weakness is before the start of the game, so you can do it either way. If you like being surprised, you can shuffle your pool of basic weaknesses facedown, but put this card faceup. This way if you happen to draw Indebted, you'll know it, but if you draw something else, you won't know what your random weakness is until you draw it.
You start each game with 2 fewer resources.
I haaaaaaatteeee this weakness. My brother and I have decided to ban this card from our campaign because frankly, it's overpowered, on top of the permanent keyword spoiling your fun if you like keeping your random weaknesses a surprise.
1) One of the big selling points of this game for me was the fact that you couldn't trust your own deck, and this card undermines that. It's never in your deck which makes drawing cards significantly less dangerous compared to decks with any other weakness.
2.) It's 1 less card in your deck. If there was a card in Netrunner that said "reduce your minimum deck size by 1, but start the game with 2 fewer credits" I guarantee that it would see play.
3) Most weaknesses are less devastating the earlier they hit you in the game, this weakness hits you at the very start of the game, where you'll have plenty of time to recover from its effects. Speaking of which...
4)... -2 credits is nothing. The worst this could do is screw up your plans of playing Leo De Luca or some other expensive card on turn 1, which is inconvenient but it's nowhere near as bad as the other basic weaknesses.
I'm not entirely against permanent weaknesses, but I think if we ever see any more of them in the future they should be a problem that haunts you for the entire game, rather than just a minor speedbump.
That said, taking this card AND another random basic weakness could be an interesting challenge.
Just to underline a key point in this weakness's power, as has already been mentioned. This weakness hits you every single game.
Trying to list every possible way a weakness (even this one) can mess with your game is impossible, but all the basic weaknesses share one, essentially the same, game effect , you loose a round (With the notable exception of Amnesia, Paranoia and Overzealous, all of which can cost you a good deal more). The way Indebted differs? Instead of "When drawn, loose a round" it basically reads "You loose the first round each game".
The first round each game is usually where the team sticks together and drops the assets they mulliganed for on the table, indebted slows this down so you're still setting up on round 2, or entering the fray underprepared, Indebted can wind up on itself, especially if you draw a bad starting hand, imagine the scenario where you get all of your support stuff on the opening hand and no main gear, mystic drawing their holy rosary, blinding light and Arcane studies on the opening hand for example but no Shrivelling or Rite of seeking, playing these cards and paying their costs makes actually playing for your main cards that much harder when you finally draw into them.
How to deal with this weakness? Depending on your investigator you might just ignore it, you might spend your first actions getting back the lost resources, you might start tecking out costly cards. The key positive factor about indebted is that it reduces a lot of pressure and add's a little bit of predictability to your deck. Even so, do not make the mistake of underestimating this weakness. Depending on which Investigator you are playing, Hypochondria and Psychosis are still probably easier to shrug off.
TL:DR. Indebted is the most mitigatable weakness, it is unique however in the fact that it must be mitigated every single game (whereas other weaknessess only show up 2 out of 3 scenarios) and that it always hits you in the very first round.
I'm surprised that the top review of this weakness calls it very mild. I consider it way worse than average. It's probably not the worst weakness in the game (Overzealous exists, and I'm no fan of Amnesia) but it's quite bad.
Now, you might argue that Indebted has two things going for it. First, it only takes away two resources. That doesn't seem too bad. A run-of-the-mill weakness like Haunted or Chronophobia probably takes away two actions (actions being more valuable than resources), and something like Paranoia has the potential to take away a lot more than two resources. Second, you'll obviously never draw Indebted, so it won't cost you a card as other weaknesses do. And if you're Indebted, your odds of drawing any other specific card you want in your deck are ever so slightly higher.
But I still consider this weakness terrible. First: it hits you every single game. There are no reprieves. A good rule of thumb is that a standard scenario lasts about ~12 turns, all things considered. There are 28 or more cards in your deck after your opening hand. That means that as long as you're not spending a ton of actions drawing cards, there is a pretty decent chance you will never draw your basic weakness. Or, if you do draw it, you might draw it so late in the game that it doesn't matter (there are many weaknesses that can simply be shrugged off if drawn late enough). This will never be the case with Indebted, which will always hurt you.
Second, the cost of two resources may not seem that bad, but in fact they are more significant than they seem, because resources are at their most valuable on turn 1. Almost every investigator needs to play key assets to be effective, and needs to get them out ASAP. Wendy wants Leo De Luca and Fire Axe. Daisy wants Old Book of Lore and Dr. Milan Christopher. Agnes wants Shrivelling and Peter Sylvestre (and probably many other things besides.) Notice how all these investigators want cards that combined cost 6+ resources. Notice also how many of these cards grant lasting benefits and are therefore weaker the later they are played. Being Indebted makes these starts agonizingly slow. Unless you are lucky enough to draw Emergency Cache and the key assets in question, you'll have to choose between spending multiple "take a resource" actions (which slows you down a lot) or not getting your critical assets out for several turns (which also slows you down a lot.) You'll be faced with this every single game. On the first turn, resources are almost as important as actions, and Indebted costs you two. Every time.
You might say "just build your deck with Indebted in mind." Well, first, investigators are just flat-out less effective without their key assets, so avoiding some of your investigator's most powerful cards to play around your weakness is not a great solution. Moreover, by the rulebook you get your weakness after building your deck. So this is not really an option.
Standard cost of a weakness is 3 actions :
- One action since you don't draw a card in compensation
- Two actions to get rid of the weakness Depending on how much you draw, you draw a weakness between half of the time and 5 times over 6. Lets average it to 2/3. So in average, a weakness make you lose 2 actions each game.
This weakness make you lose two actions at the start of the game :
- No surprise. Determinism is always a good thing, since you can build against.
- The other players can compensate you inefficiency in the first few turns.
- You are less likelly to draw a weakness. Drawing a weakness while searching for a solution to a problem is a VERY bad news. You are significantly reducing the probabilities of a bad news.
So except if you planed to "rush" trough the scenario (which is reasonnable when playing alone), this weakness is better than the "standard weakness".
Fun fact - did you know this was the first card with the Permanent keyword that wasn't an asset? It's kind of weird when you consider that cards like the John Dee translation of the The Necronomicon are considered assets. Most other Permanent cards are assets, so it makes it a bit unusual in that regard.
Looking at the rules as written - seen here - could suggest that this card actually has no effect since it's classified as a treachery and not an asset. "When a treachery card is drawn by an investigator, that investigator must resolve its effects. Then, place the card in its discard pile unless otherwise instructed by the ability." You technically never draw it, so you never trigger the effect, right? I could see someone reading these rules and interpreting the card this way. However, I think it's pretty clear that's not how this card is meant to be interpreted.
A more devastating read of this card would be "you start each game with 2 fewer resources" reading that each game starts you with 2 resources less than the game before it, so that your progression could look like this:
- Game 1: 3 resources
- Game 2: 1 resource
- Game 3+: 0 resources
Technically the wording is ambiguous enough that you can read it that way. Tough, right? Again, I don't think this is how the card was meant to be interpreted, but it could be read that way. (But it shouldn't be, because I am very sure it's just a flat -2 resources at the start of play.)
As for my actual thoughts on the card, I generally find it to be one of the more preferable weaknesses. It's one of the weaknesses that actually impacts my playing more, actually - with less weakness cards in the deck, I am more likely to draw more. The downside is that it does get you with its effect every game, but I believe that one of the keys to a good deck is consistency, so I like knowing exactly when a weakness is going to hit. It's something that you can take into account for your plan. It does slow your start a little bit, but it saves you that tempo hit later on in the scenario. Having 3 resources still gives you enough to play key cards like Machete and Shrivelling (and Dark Horse, of course!) to get you started. Is it possible that 2 resources could be the difference between winning and losing? Yes, but most of the time this is just a minor and predictable setback. I still think it's well balanced, though - annoying, but not completely negligible.
I'm in disagreement with everyone that says this is a horrible weakness. Whenever I draw this card I actually feel lucky I didn't get something worse. To understand why, just imagine this scenario:
You are Daisy and you are engaged with a powerful monster, you can kill it with your trusty shriveling and higher education, but you only have 1 action left and you cannot afford to take another hit. You decide to evade the monster so you can kill it the very next round. You succeed, but you had to commit more cards than you wished to. Now you have four cards left. No big deal, or so you think, after all the upkeep phase is coming and you'll get your fifth card. You draw a card and it is a basic weakness...
Now the next round begins, having a weakness in this situation is already bad as it is, but there is another very bad effect of having drawn a weakness. Something that whoever thinks "Indebted" is awful is probably missing. You were robbed of the chance of getting a useful card. Now you have no way to use higher education to boost your willpower, you will not be able effectively attack the monster successfully. You will be defeated and you will lose the scenario.
A basic weakness in your deck doesn't simply do whatever it is written on its revelation effect, it also robs you of the chance of getting a useful card. You spent an action to draw a card, but you got a weakness? Your action was wasted. You just used overpower and perception, but when you draw a card you get a weakness? What was meant to be a reward became a punishment.
It is true, unlike other weaknesses indebted will always hurt you. But there are two things that indebted will never do. It will never haunt you at a most critical time, and it will never rob you of a chance of getting a useful card.
If you were given the choice to get a consistent mild evil or something that inconsistently swings between neutral to devastating, what would you choose? If you choose the latter I can only say I envy you for feeling that lucky, I sure don't.
A friend pointed out to me that the easiest way of maintaining ignorance of your own weakness without seeing the card is to simply show it to your team mate and ask them if its a permanent then just not let on what it is. Ofc this wont help solo players, but mplain's approach would at indeed work there.