The Value of Versatility

Zahya Sadeghi is nothing if not versatile. When we began testing System Gateway, we faced a challenge: how can you make a Criminal ID that is beginner-friendly, has a 40-card deck, is fun to play, and is not completely broken? For fear of eating my words, I think that balance has been achieved.

Zahya Sadeghi: Versatile Smuggler

Zahya Sadeghi: Versatile Smuggler

Criminal Identity: Cyborg

Minimum deck size: 40 – Influence: 15

link: 0 – mu: 4

Whenever a run on HQ or R&D ends, you may gain 1credit for each time you accessed a card during that run. Use this ability only once per turn.

I obtain your desire.

Illustrated by Benjamin Giletti

Zahya (pronounced Z-eye-aa) is a businesswoman, a single mother, and a smuggler of luxury goods via her businesses in the Lunar Docks. She is well connected and well respected in the community and uses her business as a front to reroute luxury shipments, perhaps evoking Breaking Bad’s Gustavo Fring. She sees every transaction as an opportunity to maximise value. This theme comes across strongly in the ID, as Zahya makes sure her transactions give her a little something else on the side.

Once per turn, when a run on HQ or R&D ends, you may gain 1credit for each card you accessed.

So, why should you be excited about Zahya? With Leela Patel rotating, many would see Steve Cambridge as the go-to ID in Criminal for regular decks. What about if I told you your Legwork sweep of HQ netted you a credit of profit? With Zahya, building up those Turning Wheel counters once per turn is equivalent to clicking for a credit, or you can save that value for the big dig on your last click.

Zahya comes with a range of ways to add value when she gets into servers, good examples being Docklands Pass and Red Team; should cost for this be an issue, she has tools like Tread Lightly to help her in. You’ll be hearing a lot more about these powerful cards over the coming weeks. Paragon, Bravado, Dirty Laundry, and even Hot Pursuit all look excellent in this ID, and you are getting money back to use for installing and reinstalling Boomerang in the late game

Plus, this ID is 40 cards! Criminal has great draw in faction with The Class Act; with that little bit of acceleration, you’ll soon be able to find the pieces you need to break into centrals. Even single accesses to check the top of R&D don’t feel as wasteful when you know you’re at least gaining a credit for the privilege. Forty-card IDs tend to be the home of ambitious combo decks because they can find their pieces faster. With many new cards in the pool, perhaps Zahya’s logistics background will let her help you set up that turn-six Fear the Masses combo that you’ve been trying to find a home for. 

I can also see Zayha being a good Rebirth target for Az McCaffrey, who perhaps lacks the late-game strength of other Criminal IDs, even with Steve back in the fold. Here’s a decklist you might want to try out in Startup, the new small-cardpool NISEI format. It puts the pressure on the Corp with a strong economic early game, and uses Zahya’s ability and tools to keep the tempo advantage in the late game.

Sure Gamble
2× Conduit
The Class Act
3× Red Team
Inside Job
2× Mutual Favor
Earthrise Hotel
Career Fair
Dirty Laundry
2× Pantograph
Sneakdoor Beta
Daily Casts
2× Docklands Pass

Direct, to the point, with a quick early setup and sustained late-game economy pressure, Zahya is an ID that teaches new players the importance of multi-access and rewards them for it. That’s versatility.

System Gateway and System Update 2021 will be released on or shortly after March 28, 2021, as physical cards via NISEI’s print-on-demand partners and pay-what-you want files for downloading and printing at home!


  • Ed

    At 12 years old, Ed came second in a jigsaw competition, and hasn't looked back since. He puts his Philosophy degree to good use as a Head Chef, and his favourite children's TV programme is Thunderbirds.