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Charge is a passive utility program which reduces the PWR cost of other programs by 2 down to a minimum of 0, but increases their cooldowns by 1 turn. Program PWR costs of 0 are not reduced by Charge, but their cooldowns are still increased by 1 turn. Charge has no effect on passive programs, except for those with cooldowns (Emergency Reserve and Seed).

Charge can be bought from some Server Terminals for 900 credits.

Charge's effect always applies while it is installed, and cannot be enabled or disabled at will. Charge only raises other programs' cooldowns at the time they are used, so if Charge is installed while another program is already on cooldown, it does not raise that program's cooldown timer. If Charge is sold while another program is on cooldown, it also does not decrease that program's cooldown timer.

Charge's effect stacks with Seed (though it also extends Seed's cooldown), and with the algorithm Attune.

If Charge and Overdrive are both installed, their effects stack, so that other programs' PWR costs are reduced by 1 down to a minimum of 0, and their cooldowns are reduced by 1 turn down to a minimum of 1 turn. However, every active program will have a cooldown of at least 1 turn, even if it would normally have no cooldown.


Charge is not a good program, although it is not as bad as Overdrive. Its cost of 900 credits makes it the most expensive out of all programs available from Server Terminals, and it is actively harmful if you have programs that already cost 0 PWR. At best, Charge is a situational program which can work in specific loadouts.

The main problem with Charge is that reducing programs' PWR costs is mainly beneficial if it lets you use those programs more frequently; but the increased cooldown also prevents you from using them as frequently. Particularly since every other program has a cooldown of at least 1 turn with Charge, you can typically use at most four programs per turn as Charge occupies one slot. In low-PWR-generation strategies where the shortage of PWR is the bottleneck for how often you can hack, Charge can be beneficial, but in these strategies you normally want programs with low PWR costs, which do not benefit from Charge anyway.

Charge is somewhat similar to Seed in that both reduce the PWR cost of other programs, but while Seed applies to one program use per turn allowing you to use other programs at their full cost, Charge applies to all program uses and prevents you from using them a second time in the same turn. Seed supports a loadout where a program with a high nominal PWR cost is used once per turn, and low-PWR-cost programs are used for the rest of the hacking. In contrast, Charge only really works well when all of your other programs have high nominal PWR costs.

For many programs, Charge either has no benefit or makes them strictly worse:

  • Any program which already has a PWR cost of 0 is made strictly worse by the increased cooldown.
  • Burst is much worse with Charge — it still costs 0 PWR to use, but the higher cooldown makes it generate less average PWR per turn, and also extends the -3 AP penalty by an extra turn.
  • Emergency Reserve's longer cooldown with Charge makes it strictly worse, as it generates at most +1.25 PWR per turn instead of +1.67 PWR per turn in the best case.
  • Root's -1 PWR per turn penalty is also extended by an extra turn, making it strictly worse.
  • Seed's cooldown becomes 2 turns, making it strictly worse.
  • Charge has no effect on other passive programs.

Charge does unambiguously improve some specific programs:

  • Fusion with Charge costs only 3 PWR to use, and generates +3 PWR per turn for five turns instead of four, for an average of +2.4 PWR per turn if Fusion is used consistently, compared to +1.75 PWR per turn for Fusion without Charge.
  • Wisp normally costs 3 PWR with no cooldown; with Charge, it costs 1 PWR and has a cooldown of 1 turn, but it is rarely good to use Wisp more than once per turn anyway.

Other programs with higher PWR costs become different when combined with Charge, but whether they are better or worse depends on your loadout and strategy:

  • Brimstone with Charge costs 1 PWR, with a 1 turn cooldown, although it normally costs too much PWR to use frequently as a breaker anyway.
  • Dagger 2.0 with Charge costs 1 PWR to break 5 firewalls, with a 5 turn cooldown; strictly better than Dagger.
  • Data Blast with Charge costs 1 PWR, with a 1 turn cooldown. Breaking firewalls on many devices in an area with Data Blast can mitigate Charge's downside of being able to use at most 4 programs per turn.
  • Golem with Charge costs at most 2 PWR, with a 1 turn cooldown, but Golem is normally best used at most once per turn anyway.
  • Hammer with Charge costs 3 PWR to break 5 firewalls, with a 6 turn cooldown.
  • Hunter with Charge costs 3 PWR to remove a daemon at most every 4 turns; although without Charge it often costs too much PWR to use more frequently.
  • Lockpick 2.0 with Charge costs 1 PWR to break 2 firewalls, with a 1 turn cooldown.
  • Mercenary with Charge costs 0 PWR the first two times it is used per alarm level, instead of just the first time. It also gets a 1 turn cooldown, but Mercenary is usually too expensive to use more frequently than once per turn anyway.
  • Oracle with Charge costs 2 PWR, with a 1 turn cooldown, although Oracle is best used towards the beginning of the mission when you typically can't afford to use it more than once per turn anyway.
  • The Wrench programs become even more efficient with Charge, though they have 1 turn cooldowns.

Overall, the vast majority of loadouts have at least one program harmed by Charge; there is almost always a better program you could install instead of it. It is rarely worth 900 credits, and even if you find it for free in a Program Compile side-mission, an empty program slot is usually preferable (though you could install it just long enough to sell it for 450 credits).

programs/charge.txt · Last modified: 2020/06/30 17:24 by andrew