Defining Fairness: My Vision for a Healthy Metagame

As everyone who reads my content should know, I am an unwavering proponent of Fair Netrunner. For those of you who have not yet figured out that Battle of Wits was satire, it should be clear that I only champion decks that I believe embrace just and true Netrunner as it ought to be played. I often scold people for playing with Personal Evolution shell game, Blackmail Spam, CI7, and other combos and gimmicks. It is my belief that the death of a game comes when players feel that to be competitive they must subvert one or more facet of the game’s core mechanics.

There has been much debate in the community lately around what makes a deck fair or unfair, overpowered or not, or if fairness and power even have anything to do with each other. I like to think of fair and Unfair decks as components of a meal. The fair decks are the meat and potatoes, the Unfair ones are the spices and seasoning. You need some unfair decks to keep things interesting and exciting, but with no fair component, a Meta just becomes an unpalatable mound of spice. Additionally, some spices are just too strong or aggressive for most people, and the presence of even one of these can ruin the whole dish.

For this reason, I think a good rule of a healthy, diverse meta is:

There should be numerous options for unfair strategies, but they should all be limited in their unfairness. There must always be multiple fair options for each side at the top tier of competitive play.

What makes a deck unfair?

The unfair decks are the ones that provoke these reactions from their opponents:

“How am I supposed to stop that?”

“I didn’t feel like anything I did mattered.”

“My decisions felt pretty random this game.”

“I didn’t feel like I had any control over how this game went.”

“I don’t think I could win after how the first few turns went.”

“Do you ever run?/Do you ever try to score out?”

“Do you even have any Ice/Icebreakers in that deck?”

“Don’t show that to a new player, they might get the wrong impression about the game.”

“That didn’t feel like Netrunner…”

I’ve tried to take the emotions behind these statements and concretize them into a few core tenets of the game. These are statements about how the game should be played so that it feels fair and pure. Remember that violating one of these is OK, just so long as a deck does not do so to an unacceptable extent, and that multiple competitive options exist that do not violate any.

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Non-Interactivity is Unfair

The most impactful plays should involve decisions made by both players. You should feel like you care what your opponent does on their turn and they should care about what you do on yours.

mushin

High Impact Hidden Information is Unfair

Players should be able to use hidden information to create advantages, but a single piece of hidden information should be limited in its impact, especially if high impact instances can be created frequently.
sensiewyld

 

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game, is Unfair

Players should be able to make meaningful decisions and leverage their skill before a random occurrence determines or strongly influences the outcome of the game. Opening hand strength should be of minimal importance.

ad2bm

Ignoring Large portions of card-types/game actions is Unfair

Players attempting to play a simple strategy should not feel like their deck contains an overwhelming number of useless cards. Players should feel like, although some cards are more effective against a given strategy than others, most of their deck will be relevant every game. Corp decks should, to some extent, attempt to protect servers and score agendas. Runner decks should attempt to make runs and steal agendas.

To illustrate these metrics, I will now go through several competitive archetypes that have been present in the game over the last 2 years, rating each of them. I accept that my ratings are purely executive and that you may disagree by 1 point here or there, but this should still give some semblance of objectivity to the question of whether a deck is unfair. I also know that I have not covered every competitive deck, but I leave it as an exercise for you to rate whatever you feel I’ve left out for yourself.

For each category above, I will give a rating of 1 to 4 for each deck:

1: Acceptable

2: Potentially Frustrating

3: Often Frustrating

4: Unhealthy

Totaling the 4 categories gives the deck’s overall rating:

7 or Lower: Fair (We need at least a few of these to be viable for each side)

8-10: Unfair (These are OK, if they are not obviously better than all fair options)

11 or Higher: Too spicy (These decks can exist, and are cool to see occasionally, but should never be commonplace at top tier play. When one makes the cut, we should feel excited by it as a rare occurrence, not roll our eyes saying “not again…”)

Remember that these final categorizations are still based on a spectrum. A deck coming in at a 7 may still feel unfair to many players, whereas a deck coming in even as high at 10 may seem fair to those with a high tolerance. These are just rough guidelines.

Corp Side

24/7 Boom SYNC

A 24/7 combo deck that tags and kills the runner without a trace (or even a run), while hiding behind extremely difficult to handle tag ice. Essentially never scores non-2/1 agendas.

Non-interactivity – 4

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game- 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

Power Shutdown Boom Combo

A Combo deck that uses Power Shutdown, Accelerated Diagnostics, and 24/7 to Boom the runner extremely quickly.

Non-interactivity – 4

Impact of Hidden information – 3

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game- 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

CtM Tempo Tag

A rush/tempo deck that uses the pressure of must-trash assets alongside the Controlling the Message ID to keep the runner at bay while it rushes agendas and disrupts the runner’s board and credit pool with Breaking News.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 4

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 2

Verdict: Unfair

 

Mushin PE

Uses Mushin No Shin to create high-variance situations that are weighted to favor the Corp. Attempts to hold off central server pressure with the threat of a net-damage flatline.

Non-interactivity – 2

Impact of Hidden information – 4

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 3

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

Russian NEH

An extremely fast Near-Earth Hub deck that uses Team Sponsorship to chain agenda-scores together, and a multitude of assets to stress the runner’s clicks and early-game economy.

Non-interactivity – 2

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

CI 7-Point Shutdown

A Combo deck that uses Power Shutdown and Accelerated Diagnostics to score 7 points in a single turn.

Non-interactivity – 4

Impact of Hidden information – 3

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

Astrobiotics (Historical, Post Clot, Pre MWL)

A rush deck that uses Biotic Labor and Sansan City Grid to safely Fast Advance an Astroscript Pilot Program, chaining into more Astroscrips for a quick and inexpensive 7 points, often without ever putting Ice on a remote server. Thought to be too fast and resilient.

Non-interactivity – 3

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 2

Verdict: Unfair (Pre-clot this deck certainly scores far higher)

 

Standard Palana Foods

This deck leverages the interaction of Caprice Nisei and Nisei Mk 2 to create a very secure remote server powered by the reliable economy provided by the Palana Foods identity and high impact operations.

Non-interactivity – 2

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

Foodcoats

Uses Breaker Bay Grid + HB Campaigns to generate a huge amount of money to rez several mid-range ice and score out with Ash and/or Caprice.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

HB Fast Advance

Uses never-advance tactics and burst economy to sneak out 1-2 agendas, then closes the game with Biotic Labor.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

RP Glacier

Use the economy engine of Sundew to rez several pieces of taxing ice, eventually scoring out with the Caprice Nisei + Nisei Mk2 Combo that makes a remote server nearly impossible to access.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

Blue sun Bootcamp Glacier

A Glacier deck that uses the economy engines of Oversight AI and Adonis Campaign to create an extremely taxing Ash server that the runner cannot afford to run more than once. Often audibles into a rush strategy against decks that it cannot tax in the late-game.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

IG 54 (Historical, although MUCH weaker versions are still being attempted)

A prison deck that uses Mumbad City Hall to repeatedly search for assets and Heritage committee, allowing it to quickly assemble a lock of Bio-Ethics Associations and Hostile Infrastructures protected by the Industrial Genomics ability. Thought to be too powerful, unfun, and non-interactive.

Non-interactivity – 4

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

IG49

A combo kill deck that uses a combination of Psychic Field, Ronin, Bio-Ethics Association, and Chairman Hiro to flatline the runner. The Industrial Genomics ability forces the runner to spend clicks and cards building credits, rather than just checking every new server for kill pieces.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 3

Verdict: Unfair

Runner Side

Blackmail Spam Valencia

A control deck that uses Blackmail and Rumor Mill to lock the Corp’s remote while it sets up large Medium digs. Often played with Account Siphon as well to create another angle of attack.

Non-interactivity – 3

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Unfair

 

Dyper

A Kate deck that uses the Ddos, False Echo combo along with 3 Hyperdrivers to Keyhole the win in a single turn.

Non-interactivity – 4

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Too Spicy

 

Andysucker

A tempo-oriented Criminal deck that uses the Anarch Icebreaker suite to invalidate cheap ice, and economic pressure to keep larger ice from being rezzed.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

AggroCrim

Aggressive criminal, played usually out of Gabe but possibly out of Andy or Ken, that Siphons aggressively and floats tags against all Corps with no punishment. Aims to keep the Corp in the early game until it can score 7 points, often with no solid plan for late-game.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 2

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

SiphonWhiz/Hate Bear

Use Ddos and Faust to land early Account Siphons, crippling the Corp and pounding them with Medium digs before they can set up a board-state that can stop the momentum of Obellus-power Faust runs.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 4

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 3

Verdict: Unfair

 

Temujin/Reg-ass Whizzard

Uses Temujin Contract to build credits quickly and Anarch Icebreakers with Datasucker and Ice Carver to invalidate most problematic ice.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

Dumblefork

Uses Whizzard and a critical mass of Ice destruction to continually rewind the Corp’s board-state. Powered by the Wyldside Adjusted Chronotype draw engine and Faust as essentially its only breaker.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 3

Verdict: Unfair

 

Stealth Shaper

Played out of Smoke or Kate, this deck aims to set up a stealth rig powered by recurring credits, allowing it to break into either the remote, R&D, or both, for close to 0 credits.

Non-interactivity – 2

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

DLR Maxx

A tag-me deck that aims to break the Corp with Account Siphon recursion and close the game by installing a Data Leak Reversal set-up that the Corp cannot afford to trash.

Non-interactivity – 2

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdict: Unfair

 

DLR Val (Historical)

Similar to DLR Maxx, but with no Wireless Net Pavilion errata in place yet, and with the additional remote pressure of Blackmail.

Non-interactivity – 3

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 3

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 4

Verdit: Too Spicy

 

Prepaid Kate (Historical)

The classic Shaper. Apply pressure to scoring servers with Self-Modifying Code, efficient specialty breakers, and burst economy. Punish Centrals with The Maker’s Eye, Legwork, or Indexing when the Corp is forced to overextend to score safely.  Thought to be too flexible and universal.

Non-interactivity – 1

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 1

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 1

Verdict: Fair

 

Wyldcakes Noise (Historical)

Install “Exodia” (Wyldside, Adjusted Chronotype, and Aesop’s Pawnshop) and use the disruptive viruses it supplies and pays for to force the Corp to protect their board-state rather than score. Eventually win with Noise’s ability if the Corp does not score out quickly enough.  Thought to be too difficult for the Corp to interact with.

Non-interactivity – 3

Impact of Hidden information – 1

High Variance, Especially Early in the Game – 2

Large portion of card-types/game actions ignored – 3

Verdict: Unfair

Hopes and Dreams

Now that I’ve provided a multitude of examples of fair and unfair decks, I can present my vision for a healthy Netrunner Metagame. Ideally a top 8 cut at a healthy tournament would have:

4 Fair decks (best if they are not all the same)

3 Unfair decks (better if they are all different from each other)

1 Very Spicy deck

Now let’s look at the worlds top 8 cut from 2016 and see how close we came (The tournament had a top 16, but lists are not readily available for all the decks that placed 9-16. Feel free to track them down yourself.)

Corp: 6 Unfair, 2 Spicy

Runner: 3 Fair, 5 Unfair

This is pretty far from what we would like to see. Now let’s look at 2015:

Corp: 6 Fair, 2 Unfair

Runner: 4 Fair, 2 Unfair, 2 Spicy

Even without the Most Wanted List to reign in power, and with Wireless Net Pavilion un-fixed, 2015 was a fairer Metagame than 2016 (It did still have a diversity problem, but this is easier to fix with the printing of new cards than a fairness problem). This shift happened for a few reasons. First, aside from Astroscript Pilot Program, all the cards on the original Most Wanted List were cards that enabled fair strategies! The second Most Wanted List certainly included more unfair cards like Faust and Wyldside, but the damage had already been done, since fair strategies often rely on their influence to import win-conditions, while unfair decks exist that can run on close to no influence. Second, so many powerful runner hate cards have been printed, nearly all targeting Corporation Win-conditions, that every fair deck in the game right now has at least one extremely problematic match-up. For more on this, check out Kenny Deakins’ Stimhack article on the subject:

Kenny’s Article

Conclusion

A lot of people have asked when I am going to write my next deck article and the truth is: I can’t. I have not been able to make a successful new fair deck on either side since Sleeper Hold (which is actually even better now than when I wrote about it). Until something fundamental changes about the current environment, you probably wont be hearing much from me on this platform…

I’m not here to propose that any action be taken, just to provide a foundation to have a discussion around. Can you build fair Corporation decks that can survive in the current environment? Do you agree with my assessment that the presence of fair decks is necessary to the health of the game? Do you just want me to just brew toxic nonsense and post it here? What, if anything, do you think should be done?

Thanks for reading.

-TheBigBoy

Sleeper Hold: Engineering Click-Compression

For this article I thought I would try to talk through my thought process behind building what I believe to be quite a good deck. I feel the idea behind this deck was particularly inspired, and a discussion of how I landed on my exact choices could be interesting.

Before I start, I should say that many of the ideas from this deck were inspired by my online games and discussions with a couple other players:

Mason Hans (Eldermason) for his use of ELP alongside a multitude of HB assets.

Sam Suied (SamRS) for several of the other synergies in the deck, particularly those surrounding Clone Suffrage Movement.

sleeper-hold

The first synergy that inspired this deck was that between a protected Advanced Assembly Lines and political assets (Like the in-faction Clone Suffrage Movement). Having ICE on your Assembly Lines means that you can install your Clones at the end of the runner’s turn, allowing you to guarantee a trigger on yours. This also compresses the runner by 1 click on their next turn because they will almost certainly want/need to deal with the CSM.

To further take advantage of this click compression, it makes sense to run Enhanced Login Protocol. This card is already a great tool against Criminals and Whizzard, especially now that they all have 3 Temujin Contract. Being able to sometimes recur the ELP with CSM is a nice bonus.

A lot of HB decks don’t typically run a lot of Operations, and I want to be able to always have an immediately useful target for my Clones, so Lateral Growth makes sense as an addition. With 3 Assembly Lines and 3 Laterals, Blue Level Clearance seems excellent, since if I have one the former cards I can even play it on turn 1 without having to discard, which is really nice. Lateral a Clone Suffrage Movement, Ice a central, play ELP is an amazing first turn. Often the CSM will go unchecked and recur the lateral to give me a great start to the game. Following up with a Blue Level into the Lateral on the next turn makes me salivate just thinking about it.

To maximize the ELP, it also makes sense to run some more assets, but since I already have 9 economy cards and the Engineering the Future identity, I can afford for them to be utility assets. Team Sponsorship has incredible synergy with must-trash and self-trashing assets like Assembly Lines and Clones, allowing me to double-down on their effects every time that I score. Since I have Blue Level Clearance and Lateral Growth, and since this is starting to look like a Fast-Advancing deck, Jeeves Model Bioroids seems like a good fit. 3 copies would probably be too many since it is unique it is less likely to get trashed when I have so many other high-priority assets and ELP, so I’ll go with 2. Now that I know I’m fast Advancing, 3 Biotic Labors are necessary. Shipment from Sansan also seems nice to have, but probably not 3 copies. I’d come back to that one.

Now for the ICE suite. Gearcheck ICE has great synergy with our click-taxing game-plan. Ideally the runner will not have much time to draw for their breakers since they will have to deal with high-threat cards under an ELP on a regular basis. I definitely want 3 Vanilla, since it’s the best barrier gear-check in the game (certainly for HB at least).  3 Architect also seems obvious with our volume of assets.

At this point I had a great realization. With so many people going to Yog.0, and with our emphasis on gear-checks, a couple Lotus Fields seems like a great choice. When I run the lotus I usually like to run another smaller Code Gate alongside it for the match-ups where Lotus isn’t worth the cost. I like Magnet a lot more than Enigma right now, since you can punish the Criminals who have Passport (3 credits) and Peacock (4 credits), and Parasite immunity is a nice bonus. We actually have 7 ICE with this property which is quite impressive. I’m not too worried about losing our Vanillas to the excess Parasites, since they cost nothing and can easily be reinstalled with Team Sponsorship if we want.

For the agendas, I’m going to default to a 9-agenda suite rather than an 11-agenda suite since I don’t want it to be too easy for the runner to steal something and turn off our ELP. Global Food Initiative is also great to jam behind a Lotus Field against the decks that struggle to break it early.

This was my deck so far:

sleeper_draft

At this point we need a smart way to spend our last 5 influence. It seems like a Sansan City Grid could be a nice Luxury. Reinstalling it with Sponsorship is brutal. I already mentioned Shipment from SanSan as a potentially useful card, so we’ll slot one of those for our final pip.

Now we need a little more ICE. Ichi 1.0 into Vanilla is one of my favorite taxing-on-a-budget servers, and ELP makes it even better, since if they click the Ichi they will have to eat the trace with no clicks remaining. 3 Ichis is probably too many though, so we’ll go with 2. I also want one more hard Sentry because of the recent prevalence of Mongoose. Rototurret isn’t great, but this sort of tempo deck is its natural home, so I’m willing to try a single copy. Architect into Rototurret could end in a blowout against a Mongoose deck if the runner decides to take a risk. With how many cards we will be drawing (both with clicks and with Blue Level Clearance), 13 ICE should be enough. We also will often not make a multi-ICE remote server, or even an ICE’d remote server at all, which certainly helps. Now I was at 48 cards with all needs accounted for, so I added a pet card of mine that has actually made a massive difference in many of my victories.

sleeperz

Domestic Sleepers lets us win from 6 points while only on 1 credit. It triggers Team Sponsorships, and we can even triple click it to go up to 5 points and get a click back from Jeeves (not actually a big deal, but it’s quite funny)! Here’s the final list (Efficiency Committee was my 4/2 for a while, but Sales Team has clearly been better in further testing so I’ve made the switch retroactively here.)

https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/38094/thebigboy-s-sleeper-hold

Sleeper Hold
Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future
Agenda (10)
3x Accelerated Beta Test
1x Corporate Sales Team
1x Domestic Sleepers
2x Global Food Initiative  ●●
3x Project Vitruvius
Asset (13)
3x Advanced Assembly Lines
2x Clone Suffrage Movement
3x Jackson Howard  ●●●
2x Jeeves Model Bioroids
3x Team Sponsorship
Upgrade (1)
1x SanSan City Grid  ●●●◦
Operation (12)
3x Biotic Labor
3x Blue Level Clearance
2x Enhanced Login Protocol
3x Lateral Growth
1x Shipment from SanSan  ●
Barrier (3)
3x Vanilla
Code Gate (4)
2x Lotus Field  ●●
2x Magnet
Sentry (6)
3x Architect◦◦◦
2x Ichi 1.0
1x Rototurret

 

 

At this point I looked at my deck and thought…

“What a pile of shit.”

And then I realized…

The deck has 0 Hedge Funds.

This was going to be a disaster.

The deck looked like it should lose to every reasonable runner deck. Nevertheless, it looked like fun so I played some games on Jinteki.net just to see if I could squeak out some wins.

It stomped.

Most games were not even close.

Between unanswered Lotus Fields, oppressive ELP openings, and just straight-up Biotic Labor spam, the deck just kept winning. I kept jamming games with it, day in and day out, confident that eventually my losing streak would begin and I could move on to something else, but this never happened. As the caliber of my opponents increased the games certainly got much closer, and a few games slipped away from me, but I was still winning FAR more than I had been with any other Corp deck.

There is something here. It’s weird, it’s powerful, and I’m not really sure why…

I think the essentially click-less economy cards like Assembly Lines and Lateral Growth are actually much stronger than they look. Being able to make some credits without having to slow your pressure of drawing cards and creating threats is a really unique effect that has only recently snuck its way into the game.

Cards I am interested in trying at some point are: 1 copy of Subliminal messaging, 1 Fast Track, the 3rd CSM, and possibly even the 3rd ELP, but I need far more games to decide what I can afford to cut. I am confident that all of these options are worse than my precious Sleepers. The Rototurrent is obviously not incredible, but I’m hoping a strong HB ICE comes out in the next few packs so I can replace it. I really don’t want to go below 13 ICE, and don’t want a porous ice like the 3rd Ichi 1.0.

After a period of Corp play so depressing that I built a Mushin No Shin deck for my last article, I am finally having fun again!

I hope you enjoy this deck if you decide to try it. I’ve been told that it takes a few games to get used to, so stick with it if you’re not successful at first. Having 9 non-Hedge Fund burst economy cards certainly takes some getting used to. Drop a comment here or message me on the Stimhack forums or Slack chat if you have any questions about the deck!

-TheBigBoy

Battle of Wits: A Response to the Temujin Meta

“I basically only lose to trap decks when I run an Overwriter” -TheBigBoy 2016

battle-of-wits

Corp sucks right now. Runners are rich, fast, and difficult to score against. I set out to build a deck that forces the runner to interact in a way that they are not ready to. Here’s the list:

https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/37733/bigboy-s-battle-of-wits

Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future

Agenda (9)
3x Accelerated Beta Test
2x Global Food Initiative ●●
1x Mandatory Upgrades
3x Project Vitruvius

Asset (7)
1x Aggressive Secretary
3x Cerebral Overwriter
3x Jackson Howard ●●●

Operation (20)
3x Archived Memories
2x Biotic Labor
1x Blue Level Clearance
3x Green Level Clearance
3x Hedge Fund
2x Lateral Growth
3x Mushin No Shin ●●●●● ●
2x Neural EMP ●●●●
1x Restructure

Barrier (5)
3x NEXT Silver
2x Quicksand

Code Gate (3)
3x NEXT Bronze

Sentry (4)
3x Brainstorm
1x Vikram 1.0

Other (1)
1x Mother Goddess

If you can’t tell, this is a deck that plays Mushin No Shin over and over again until it wins.

A lot of people have made decks like this before, but they have all failed because:

  1. They include stupid other trap side-plans like psychic field and friends instead of just more money and ICE. This leaves them too poor to move fast enough or have any kind of back-up plan. These side-plans ARE NOT do-or-die for the runner like Mushin is. They can be solved safely by good players, especially if they have I’ve Had Worse in their deck.
  1. They use identities that aren’t Engineering the Future. This leaves you totally poor and, secondarily of course, removes a lot of the surprise value of the deck. If you do this out of Jinteki your ICE and money situations are both crap (Exception: Cortex lock is sweet, but we have Brainstorm for the same purpose).

Here is your plan.

  1. Secure centrals with cheap ICE or Brainstorms. You don’t want to lose traps or agendas out of HQ or R&D. The more cards the runner see/trashes, the better deductions they can make later.
  1. Mushin-Advance to 4 (for net 0!) something. If you have to choose between 2 agendas your priorities are: Man-ups > Vitruvius > GFI > ABT. If you only have Overwriter then just Mushin that. If you have Overwriter AND an Agenda then Mushin the Overwriter if the agenda is ABT (the least good one to score) and otherwise just shuffle up the cards or use Random.org to decide (unless you know your opponent and have a read obviously).
  1. If you score Man-ups you are obviously on easy street. Just FA to the easy win while piling ICE on your centrals to buy time. If you get a Vitruvius then you want to jam it up to 7 advancements for the 4 counters. You can use these to recur more Mushins, recur biotics for the FA win, recur Neural EMPs to machine-gun a runner who runs an Overwriter later or does something dumb, or even just recur some money if you get siphoned and need to dig out. If you get GFI out then you can just biotic twice for the win. Just turtle up, Mushin traps (or are they…), and eventually win because you have 3 archived memories. If you get ABT then leave it down until you have a Jackson or 1-2 Archived in hand and then fire away! You don’t have a ton of ICE, but even 1 ICE is something if it’s free.
  1. If your first Mushin is a triggered Overwriter, congratulations! All you have to do is survive until you draw 1 Neural EMP and 1 Archived Memories (or 2 Neural, or a Neural and a Vitruvius counter) and then the runner is dead! Surviving when you have a bunch of EtR ICE and the runner is on 1 hand-size is usually not that hard.
  1. 50% of the time your first Mushin will fail, that’s OK. The worst thing that could have happened is that now the runner has 2 points. Just Archived Memories your Mushin and try again. ALWAYS WAIT A TURN SO YOU CAN ADVANCE TO 4. 4 Brain damage basically guarantees the Neural-Archived-Neural win at some point, whereas a runner CAN STILL WIN WITH ONLY 3 BRAIN DAMAGE. In fact, waiting a turn can bait an HQ run into a Brainstorm since the Runner will want to knock out your Mushin target.

Card Explanations:

Win Conditions (14):

3 Mushin No Shin: Removing skill from the game since H&P. Basically all reasonably-minded skilled players hate playing against this card. There’s a good reason for that. When the runner has infinite money this is the only tool left in your arsenal. AWLAYS ADVANCE TO 4!

2 Biotic Labor: This is how you close the game if you get a couple Mushin’d agendas out. You can also use this to get to 4 points so that all your Mushins threaten the GFI-win. You don’t need 3 copies because you can recur these in a lot of ways.

2 Neural EMP: This is how you win once the runner has 4 Brain Damage.

3 Archived Memories. Counts as more copies of any of the above cards. This is really your next biggest power card after Mushin. It’s so flexible and cheap that it makes you wildly consistent.

3 Cerebral Overwriter: 4 Brain Damage means you win. ALWAYS ADVANCE TO 4! Ok… if they already have Brain Damage then you can leave it at 3, but really you should probably have already won. Fun fact, in my testing I have 3 times made the play of recurring an Overwriter and then Mushining it in the same turn. For some reason it has gotten run every time. This is probably close to the top of the list of the most embarrassing things that can happen to a runner.

1 Aggressive Secretary: I wanted 1 more trap but was out of influence. I wasn’t sure about Agg Sec but it has already won me a few games. I had a game where both the runner and I were on game point and they ran my Mushin figuring that if they hit Overwriter they could hail-mary some centrals for a shot to still win. The Agg Sec blew up their rig and they were locked out forever. This is obviously way more situational than the Overwriter, but it can win the game in situations where you are SO far behind that the Overwriter wouldn’t quite be enough. Bonus points if you manage to Mushin this with all 3 Overwriters in the trash.

Agendas (9):

Ahhh, a 9 Agenda trap deck. That’s more like it.

3 Project Vitruvius: This is your core Mushin Target. 4 Vitruvius counters takes you most of the way to winning. It gives you Mushins, Biotics, and money for days.

3 Accelerated Beta Test: This card is at its worst in this deck, but we need 6 3/2s for our alternate win-condition and getting some free ICE happens fairly often.

2 Global Food Initiative: These make your density great and with Mushin you can actually score them. In theory you can also chain-Biotic this with a Super-Vitruvius although this takes 16 credits and I have only done it once.

1 Mandatory Upgrades: This is our alternative to having a 4/2. You can’t biotic this out but the upside of scoring it with Mushin is good enough that it’s worth having 1. Playing too many copies of this agenda is where a lot of Mushin players go wrong. If you don’t have 6 3/2s then scoring your Man-ups isn’t even that good.

ICE (13):

3 NEXT Silver 3 NEXT Bronze 1 Mother Goddess: We want cheap gear-checks to keep us safe while we find the first Mushin. These ICE also stop Criminal from totally running over you. NEXT Silver is a beast against decks without Parasite. You can recur these with your 3 Archived Memories if they die.

2 Quicksand: A recent addition to the deck. This is really nice against Medium and Temujin Contract. I used to have Vanillas but this has been just a little better. Feel free to swap for Vanilla if you feel poor.

3 Brainstorm: This card just wins games. Some logical players will stop respecting Architect after they see Green Level Clearance or Lateral Growth and just plow into this thing. A super common play is for runners to click 1 blind Account Siphon when they see a Mushin play, hoping that they can click through an HQ Bioroid or force a rez of an ICE expensive enough that they can run the Mushin. A 4-5 damage Brainstorm is just as good as a successful Overwriter (actually better because it sticks around to help out a bit). The Criminals are cutting their Faeires. Put one of these on Archives after they play a Security Testing or put a Temujin contract there and send them to the hospital when they “force” you to rez it. If you get a weird draw with a ton of money and the runner doesn’t have a sentry breaker, you can Mushin an agenda and put a Brainstorm on it. You get good stuff either way!

1 Vikram 1.0: More good value for slowing down Medium. I wanted one ICE that was a bit beefier and this seems like the best option. Feel free to try Assassin as well, but I tried both and Vikram was a tiny bit better and won the slot mainly because it costs 1 less. If you can, try to hold onto this until you can put it in a spot where the first sub isn’t blank.

Notice this is a lot of ICE for a Trap deck. We have room because we didn’t waste space on traps that don’t work against good players.

Economy (13):

3 Hedge Fund 3 Green Level Clearance 2 Lateral Growth: Easy Operation Money. 3 Lateral Growth was too many. You don’t have ton of stuff to install, but you have enough for 2 Lateral. Lateral and GLC are great because we have 8 ways to have Brainstorm money up on turn 1.

1 Restructure 1 Blue Level Clearance: These are a bit more powerful but harder to pull off. I just included one of each so that you can get a little extra situational punch, but not get clogged by cards you don’t have the time/money to play. I’m happy to see them whenever I draw them, but sometimes they take me a couple turns to play so I’m glad I don’t have more that would clog up my hand.

3 Jackson Howard: Great recursion and card draw that goes in every deck. Also helps you fire ABTs if you ended up Mushining one.

Final Thoughts: 

This deck is super powerful, but obviously can lose to anyone. You only need to succeed at 1 or maybe 2 Mushins to win, but sometimes the runner will guess right 3-4 times and you will lose. That said, the odds of the game favor you and as I practiced with the deck I found my decisions feeling less random and more calculated. This deck takes basically NO collateral damage from the hate-cards that players are already running. Employee Strike, Film Critic, Salsette Slums, Networking, Plascrete Carapace, Sports Hopper, and I’ve Had Worse all do nothing or almost nothing to affect our game-plan. The hate cards that we DO care about are useless against basically any other deck, making this the perfect time to put your hand on the table, look the Runner in the eye and do your best Princess Bride impression:

Hope you enjoy!

-TheBigBoy

Recommended Teaching/Learning Decks

For this month’s post I decided to provide a resource that has been painfully absent from Netrunner content as far as I can tell: A library of Teaching/Learning decks. We all know that the front page of Netrunnerdb is more often a silly deck, bad deck, or very complex deck than it is a good deck to learn the game with. After a player learns the basics, there aren’t really any places they can go to find a deck which is:

  1. Fun to play.
  2. Fairly straightforward to play.
  3. Fairly powerful.
  4. Devoid of tech cards specific to a certain meta-game.
  5. Legal with current tournament rules.
  6. Not a gimmick or built on a bizarre combo.

My goal for this project was to create decks that have all of these traits and also which:

  1. Match up interestingly and as evenly as possible against each other.
  2. Give the pilot a good sense of what each faction’s style is and which might be a good fit for them.
  3. Teach the pilot some fundamental skills and techniques that will translate to many top tier decks.
  4. Are consistant and keep card variety and 1-ofs to a minimum.
  5. Are “real” Netrunner (whatever that means).

These decks are not arbitrary combinations of “simple” cards. They are well thought-out cohesive strategies that just happen to avoid certain aspects of the game that commonly disrupt the learning process. These decks are not massively under-powered ‘noob decks’. All of them were able to win games for me more than 50% of the time in the competitive section of Jinteki.net.

You will maybe notice there is no Jinteki deck. This is because I was unable to build one that meets all of the requirements I set above. I think both Caprice Nisei decks and Net Damage decks are cool and interesting, they’re just not great for building fundamentals.

For every deck I provide a decklist, a description of the faction it represents, a brief summary of how the deck works, and explanations of some of its more subtle tricks and complex plays. Enjoy!

Shaper

Decklist

Kit Teaching

Shapers are tinkerers and explorers. They run for the thrill of discovery, the intellectual challenge, or even just the bragging rights. Shapers don’t much care about disrupting the Corp. They are confident that they can solve any puzzle thrown at them, given enough time and the right tools. A Shaper doesn’t need a lot of the advance preparation that a Criminal or an Anarch might. They’ll just get together what they need on the fly or even bend the landscape of the run to suit their strengths.

Playing This Deck:

The first thing you’re going to want to do every game is get Magnum Opus installed. Your deck has a few ways to find the Magnum if it’s not in your starting hand, and you should mulligan any hand that does not have one of those ways or the Magnum itself. You can play Self-Modifying Code, take 2 credits and then search for the Opus. You can also use Test Run to go find it, click it 3 times, and then reinstall it for good the next turn. Magnum Opus strategies like this typically get off to a slow start, but that single card will provide you with all of the money you will need for the entire game! If you ever feel low, spend a turn (or maybe even two) just taking 8 credits. Shaper isn’t about constant aggression. It’s about saving up for a few really high-impact runs. The Corp will be sweating after you’ve just taken 8 credits for the 3rd turn in a row, wondering what nastiness you could be planning…

Once you have your Magnum online; you’ll need a way to get into servers. Because of Kit’s ability, all this means you need to do is get a Gordian Blade installed. You can do this in all the same ways that worked for the Magnum Opus. Once you have your Gordian Blade, look for opportunities to hit the Corp with The Maker’s Eye, Legwork, or R&D Interface runs. Remember that if a server only has one ICE, you can guarantee that you’ll be able to break it with your Gordian Blade. Because of Kit’s ability and tricks like Tinkering and Test Run, the Corporation is going to need quite a few ICE on a remote server before they feel safe advancing an Agenda in there.

Eventually, the Corp will have two ICE on all of the servers that you want to attack and you’ll have to get out the rest of your Icebreakers. The only weakness of your rig is Sentries, since Femme Fatale is an excellent tool for dealing with a single ice, but isn’t great as a regular breaker (2 credits for 1 strength is always quite poor). If this is a big problem for you, try hosting your Femme Fatale on a Dinosaurus to give it a permanent boost in strength. If you need Dinosaurus’ memory boost, but don’t feel like you need to increase the strength of your Femme, putting your trusty Gordian Blade on it is never a bad call. Normally you can only host a program when you install it, but you can use Scavenge to trash an already-installed breaker and bring back that very same breaker at no cost, allowing you to host it on the Dino. This trick can also be used to change the ICE targeted by your Femme or reload the counters on your “Lady”.

Tricks of the Trade:

Personal Workshop/Self-Modifying Code + Stimhack: Personal Workshop can store the Programs and Hardware you can’t quite afford, allowing you to install them later at your leisure. If you’re not a fan of waiting, you can play a Stimhack to gain 9 credits for a single run, and then spend all of those credits installing cards off of your Workshop! The run doesn’t even have to have another purpose (although it can if you really want to get a little extra value out of the combo.) Self-Modifying Code can also be used with Stimhack to get a program out of your deck at a massive discount. This can really speed you up when you have to SMC for Magnum Opus on turn 1, since you will not have to take 2 credits first. Don’t worry too much about the Brain Damage, you can always host cards on Personal Workshop to avoid having to discard things you want to save for later.

Test Run + Scavenge: Test run lets you get any program you like installed for free, but with the drawback of only being able to use it for one turn. However, if you play Scavenge, trashing the program you searched for and bringing back that same program, it will not go back on top of your deck at the end of your turn! This is a great way to get a Magnum Opus or Femme Fatale out on the cheap!

Criminal

Decklist

Teaching Andy

Criminals are greedy and opportunistic. They run for the money and…the money. Criminals like to get in the Corp’s face early and don’t let up the pressure until they’ve milked them for all they are worth. Criminals are typically sneaky and stealthy in their approach, but they’re not opposed giving up their whereabouts if the profits are large enough.

Playing This Deck:

In your starting hand you’re looking for 3 or 4 strong cards to play on the first turn. These cards are Desperado, Security Testing, Sure Gamble, Dirty Laundry, and Daily Casts. Most important of these is the Desperado + Security Testing combo, which is how you will make most of your money throughout the game. Two chances at drawing a 9-card hand should get you this combo right away a good deal of the time.

After your first turn, you’ll want to spend the early game attacking the Corp’s HQ and R&D with basic runs. If you are successful then Desperado will pay you for your efforts. If the Corp rezzes ICE to stop you, then you’ll gain valuable information about what parts of your rig you will need to set up first. Criminals cannot react to ICE mid-run like the Shapers can, so they rely on getting as much ICE face-up as possible so they know what they are dealing with.

Once a lot of ICE is rezzed, you will not be able to harass the Corp with basic runs anymore. At this point you will have to spend some time building your rig. Not to worry, you hopefully forced the Corporation to rez so much ICE that they should struggle to score agendas during this period of time. If they try to catch you unprepared, a little Inside Job should teach them to slow down.

Your rig uses the Stealth Icebreakers Switchblade and Refractor. These Icebreakers break ICE incredibly efficiently, but require stealth credits to work. Your deck has some recurring sources of Stealth credits in Silencer and Cloak, along with a temporary, faster solution in Ghost Runner. Your weakness is Barriers, since your Corroder is far less efficient than your other breakers. Hopefully you have enough money saved up from the early game to pay for your Corroder usage.

If the Corp does not adequately protect HQ, don’t hesitate to hit them with your signature event: Account Siphon. Although the windfall of 10 credits feels like it will last forever, remember that the Corporation can trash your Security Testing, Daily Casts, and other resources if you do not remove the tags. You will have to decide for yourself whether the short-term gains of keeping your tags are worth the long-term sacrifices, but choices like this are what playing Criminal is all about!

Tricks of the Trade:

Security Testing + Recurring Credits: When the Corporation has rezzed ICE on all of their servers, it can be difficult to run them for a profit with Security Testing. However, with your Cloaks and Silencers you can break a lot of lightly-defended servers for no actual credits. Keep an eye out for servers that you can break into for free and use them to continue gaining 3 credits per turn all game long!

Account Siphon + Inside Job: Because the threat of Legwork makes the Corporation feel very unsafe with Agendas in HQ, they may try to take a risk and score when they have just barely as many credits as they need. When they do this, hitting them with an Account Siphon and then playing Inside Job on their Remote Server will almost certainly leave them with too few credits to rez enough ICE to stop you.

Anarch

Decklist

Teaching Whiz

Anarchs are saboteurs. They range from social and political activists to downright trolls. They run to shake things up and like watching the Corp squirm. Anarchs don’t have the economic stability of the Shapers or Criminals, but they can counteract this by neutralizing the Corp’s ICE and Assets completely.

Playing This Deck:

The Anarch playstyle is a bit less linear than the methodical Shaper’s or the aggressive Criminal’s. You have two goals for the first few turns. Your first is to set up a solid economic footing. Liberated Accouts, Daily Casts, and Kati Jones can make you a lot of money, but you have to get them going early. If you run out of money as an Anarch, it can be tricky to climb out of that hole. This means that you should mulligan most hands that do not have 2 or more Economy cards in them. Second, you want to force the Corp to rez ICE so you can deploy some Parasites. Use Datasucker, the threat of trashing things with Whizzard and Bhagat, or even Medium to scare the Corp into rezzing their ICE. If you can help it, try not to waste Parasites on Code Gates that are under 4 strength, since they will all become blank when you install your Yog.0.

Once you have installed some of your important programs (Yog.0, Corroder, Medium, Mimic) you must be wary of ICE that can trash them. Mimic may not be able to break some Destroyer Sentries if you do not have enough Datasucker counters to lower their strength. You can protect yourself in these situations with a D4v1d, which, although not a permanent solution to these ICE, can protect you from their initial sting if you get caught unprepared.

You may never get to a point where you feel like you can run wherever you want. This is fine as long as the server you CAN get into really hurts for the Corp. Whether you’re trashing a card every turn with Bhagat, accessing several cards with Medium, or trashing everything they put into a remote server for free with Whizzard, the Corp should feel the pain every time you do manage to access a server. Don’t worry too much about scoring points early, if you can keep attacking the Corporation’s board by destroying their ICE and trashing their Assets and Upgrades, then their agendas will fall into your lap soon enough.

Tricks of the Trade:

Clone Chip/Street Peddler + Parasite + Datasucker: If you have built up enough Datasucker counters, you can use Clone Chip or Street Peddler to install a Parasite in the middle of a run and immediately destroy the ICE you are encountering by lowering its strength to 0 with Datasucker. Having a Grimoire or ICE Carver installed can make this even easier.

Inject/Street Peddler + Clone Chip: Sometimes the best place for your programs is the trash! Your full rig is actually quite expensive to install, and you have no tricks to make it cheaper. However, if you use Inject or Street Peddler to throw your Icebreakers in the trash, you can use Clone Chip to pull them out right when you need them. This works especially well with Yog.0, your most expensive breaker. Sometimes when the Corp sees you have access to your Yog.0 they may choose not to rez their small Code Gates, knowing they will immediately be blanked. If they do this then you do not even have to pay for your Yog.0 in the first place! It’s a game of chicken that will always go in your favor. Just make sure you don’t have too much fun using all your Clone Chips on Parasites, or you might lose one of your Icebreakers forever!

Haas Bioroid

Decklist

Teaching HB

Haas Bioroid values efficiency and security. Their strengths are defending themselves and mitigating risk. Getting into HB servers is always either slow or expensive and quite often both. However, HB’s greatest strength, it’s ICE, is also its vulnerability. If the runner manages to neutralize or find ways to ignore HB’s ICE, there is very little that HB can do to turn things around.

Playing this Deck:

Your two objectives in the early game are to secure an Adonis or Eve Campaign protected by ICE, and to defend your Central Servers. Most of your ICE is quite expensive and without the cash-flow of a campaign you can find yourself out of money in a hurry. If you are lucky enough to draw a Breaker Bay Grid early on then your campaign will make you even larger and faster profits. Against Shaper and Anarch it is usually best to focus on securing the Campaign first, while against Criminal it is usually a good idea to defend your servers from Security Testing and Account Siphon first. When you are running that first campaign, try not to click to draw too much. You don’t want to lose your agendas out of HQ before you are ready to score them. When in doubt on how to spend your turn, just install a card and take 2 credits. This maximizes the value of your Engineering the Future ability.

Once your first Campaign runs out, you should be ready to score. If the runner might be able to get into your remote server, it can be best to just put down one of your 3/2 agendas without advancing it. The runner will very often ignore this agenda, because spending a bunch of money just to look at another Campaign is very wasteful. If, on the other hand, you know that your remote server is totally secure, you can go for one of your larger agendas, a 4 or 5-advanced Project Vitruvius, or even the ABT-Jackson trick (described below).

Even though your ICE forts will get impressive as the game goes on, you do not want to take forever to score out. Your Bioroid ICE will slow the runner down immensely, but it will not keep them out forever. Always be on the lookout for chances to score your Global Food Initiative, since after you get to 5 points, you are a single Biotic Labor and 3/2 agenda away from winning.

Tricks of the Trade:

Accelerated Beta Test + Jackson Howard/Archived Memories: If you put at least one advancement on your ABT when you install it, you will have an extra click on the turn that you score. This means that you can safely fire its ability if you have a Jackson Howard or Archived Memories in hand. Use the extra click to rescue any agendas that you might accidentally dump into Archives. It also works to protect Jackson Howard with your remote server ICE and use Biotic Labor to score your ABT the turn you install it.

Trashing Campaigns on Breaker Bay Grid: If you have an Archived Memories or a replacement Campaign, you can freely trash a campaign in a Breaker Bay Grid server to score an agenda. When you replace the campaign after you score, you will go back to making money as usual without having to repay the campaign’s rez cost!

Weyland

Decklist

Teaching GRNDL

Weyland values audacity and brute force. Their strengths are making bold moves and punishing Runners who take risks in order to stop them. Weyland moves fast and fearlessly, building a large bank of credits while scoring agendas that continue to pad their fat stacks of cash. By the time the runner is set up enough to stop Weyland from scoring, they may find themselves paid back by a lethal dose of Meat Damage.

Playing this Deck:

With most Corp decks you will want to set up for a bit before you try to score. With this one you should go for your first score by turn 2 and sometimes as early as turn 1! The 10 credits that you start the game with plus an early Hedge Fund or Restructure should set you up with enough money to safely score for a few turns. The purpose of your ICE is not to cost the runner credits to break, it is to stop them in their tracks. Mix the ICE types on your remote server so that the runner will have to install as many Icebreakers as possible before they can get in. Archer, in particular, is extremely difficult for most runner decks to break. Don’t be afraid to forfeit even a 2-point agenda to it. The time it will buy you should let you score far more points than that.

You often do not need to ICE your central servers at all, although you can toss an ICE Wall or Quandary on one of them if you drew more ICE than is typical. Don’t worry about the runner taking your agendas from R&D before you can find them. With 3 Fast Tracks, you should have no trouble getting something to score when you are ready, and an overeager runner who is digging into your R&D may just get a face full of Snares! Whenever possible, try to get 1 or 2 agenda counters on your Project Atlas. These counters can search for more agendas to score, the ICE you need to stop the runner, a transaction to keep you in the money, or even the missing piece of your Flatline combo.

Tricks of the Trade:

Sea Source + Scorched Earth (+ Scorched Earth): Assembling a combo of 3 cards seems difficult, but remember that you can search your deck for the pieces you are missing with agenda counters from Project Atlas. Having 6 more credits than the runner and this combo in hand means Game Over (7 credits for a 1-link runner). Since the runner can break most of your ICE for free due to Bad Publicity, they may focus on building their rig rather than building a big bank. This combo lets you punish that strategy.

Project Atlas + Hostile Takeover: Another reason why Project Atlas counters are so valuable is that they are essentially worth a point each! If you get to 5 or 6 points with enough Atlas counters, you can search for and score a Hostile Takeover each turn to close out the game. You can also do this earlier if you want to rez an Archer without having to forfeit a 2-point agenda.

NBN

Decklist

Teaching Spark

NBN values acquisition and materialism. They excel at disrupting the runner’s credit pool and profiting from runs made against them. NBN often doesn’t mind if an agenda gets stolen from them, as long as the economic exchange was favorable for the Corp. No matter what the runner does, NBN gets paid, and the runner signs the check.

Playing this Deck:

The first thing you are going to want to do is set up some Economy assets. Against most runners you do not have to protect your PAD Campaigns with ICE, but your Launch Campaigns should be lightly protected. Put a Launch Campaign behind a Pop-up Window or Caduceus and you will make some money no matter what the runner does!

Once you go to build your scoring server, you don’t necessarily need the ICE protecting it to end the run. Since you will score most of your agendas using Ash 2X3ZB9CY or Sansan City Grid, you don’t mind if the runner gets in, as long as once they do they are too broke to do anything when they access. Your 3 NAPD Contracts will be nearly impossible for the runner to steal a good deal of the time. Don’t underestimate the power of the bluff when playing this deck. Putting a 3/2 agenda behind some lightly taxing ICE is often a safe play, even if the runner could get in. You have so many other annoying cards to install in that server that the runner cannot afford to check everything. Paying 4 or 5 credits to look at a Product Placement or two is just demoralizing. You can even do this trick with your 4/2 NAPD Contracts if you have a SanSan City Grid in the server allowing you to score them with only 3 advancements.

Tricks of the Trade:

Spark Agency Double-Trigger Trick: If you have 2 unrezzed PAD or Launch Campaigns, you can rez one at the end of the runner’s turn and one at the beginning of your own turn. This will cause Spark Agency’s ability to trigger twice and you will still get money from both campaigns that turn! Remember that Product Placement can be rezzed to lose the runner one credit (even though rezzing it does nothing other than trigger Spark). Rez it right before they access it to get some extra value, or rez one on the first turn of the game to make playing a Sure Gamble that much more annoying!

Sansan City Grid + Global Food Initiative: If you have scored 4 points, install and advance once a Global Food Initiative on an unrezzed Sansan City Grid. Since you have 5 other upgrades in your deck, the runner will likely read this as an NAPD contract with an Ash or Product Placement. Since it would be expensive for them to steal if that is the case, and not game-winning for you, they may let it slide, allowing you to rez your Sansan and advance 3 more times the next turn for a surprise win!

Final Thoughts

Playing different combinations of these decks against each other is a great way to get a lot of your Netrunner fundamentals up to snuff. If you and a friend together build all 6 of them, you will have 9 very engaging and unique match-ups to play with each other (18 if you count switching sides).

These decks are  strong enough that if you really like one, you can take it just as it is to a GNK or small tournament and feel confident that you know what you are doing. Although respectably strong, these decks are not optimized for competition (For example, the Whizzard deck cannot break a Lotus Field, but I was mindful enough to leave 2 influence free for you to solve that problem). If you really enjoy a strategy then it is your project as a learner to take the introductory version presented here and tune it for the problems you are facing in your competitive games. However, while you play the decks against each other for the sake of learning, I highly recommend you make no changes.

A great way to use this resource as an experienced player is to build a few (or all) of these decks with your own cards, and bring them to your local meet-up to share with newer players. I guarantee they will have more fun playing these against each other than playing this week’s NRDB deck of the week against last week’s…

If you have questions about these decks or how to best use them as a resource, drop me a comment here or message me on the Stimhack forums or Slack channel.

-TheBigBoy

DumboKate: A Refreshing Approach to Shaper

I have no idea how to play Shaper. I feel very out-of-control and at the mercy of the Corp when I play a remote-camping strategy. When the Corp draws cards and floods themselves I want the freedom of running HQ without feeling like it’s slowing me down too much. I hate having to fall for remote bait because my judgment of my opponent is off. I’ve always wanted to build a Shaper deck that could be aggressive and put real pressure on the Corp.

A few months ago, this card was spoiled, and I was filled with hope

Patron

By itself, Patron is optional Wyldside with the condition of an open server. I figured it would only be good when combined with other successful run effects, of which Shaper has very few (DaVinci is NOT worth it…) I really wanted to make Patron work (It has tiny Elephants!), but I was worried that the support just wasn’t there.

However, if we combine Patron with a classic combo from out-of-faction, things start to get very interesting:

DespieDatasucker

Spending a click to gain 2 cards, a credit and a Datasucker counter (that cannot be blocked by Cyberdex Virus Suite in Archives) is VERY strong. This is an engine that the Corp MUST respond to, and this means I can force them to alter their game-plan, rezzing ICE on all their centrals before they can proceed with what they wanted to do.

I built a draft of this deck and actually had a lot of fluff in it. The last 5 slots were utility and pseudo-efficiency cards that, although useful at times, watered down my game-plan and made the deck feel clunky and inconsistent (things like Paricia and Cloak). I played the deck a bunch and by the time Patron actually came out in Salsette Island I was a bit unsatisfied. Then The Liberated Mind came out and I saw a card that took this deck to the next level:

Ashes

With this card added into the above engine, we are running at beyond Wyldside-Chronotype efficiency. I immediately cut all of my fluff slots for Ashes and the deck became WAY faster and a genuine blast to play. Here’s the list:

 

DumboKate (Credit to ErinRockABitch for the Elephant Reference)

https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/35554/dumbokate

Kate “Mac” McCaffrey: Digital Tinker
Event (17)
3 Diesel
3 Dirty Laundry
2 Modded
5 Out of the Ashes
3 Sure Gamble
1 The Maker’s Eye
Hardware (9)
3 Clone Chip ☆☆☆
2 Desperado ☆☆  ••••• •
1 Plascrete Carapace
3 R&D Interface
Resource (9)
3 Daily Casts
1 Film Critic
2 Kati Jones
3 Patron
Icebreaker (5)
3 Atman
1 Cyber-Cypher
1 Inti
Program (5)
1 Datasucker   •
1 Parasite ☆  ••
3 Self-modifying Code
9 influence spent (max 15-6☆=9)
45 cards (min 45)

 

General Game-Plan: Apply pressure immediately with some combination of Patron, Desperado, and Datasucker. SMC for Datasucker if you feel like you’ll be able to get a lot of counters if you do. Try to get agendas out of HQ with Desperado runs if you can so that the Corp can’t force you into remote runs before you are ready. Get as much ICE rezzed as possible. Since Atman + Parasite is your primary breaker suite, multiple consecutive face-down ICE in front of a Corp with a bunch of money is your greatest enemy. Discard your Ashes and use them to keep up the pressure. Install RDI’s with Modded as you draw them and once you have 1-2 of them out start putting serious pressure on R&D. Use Kati Jones to pay for your Atmans if your Patron gets blocked. Late game jam Kati and see 3-4 off R&D every other turn until you win.

Specific Card Choices:

Economy (16 + ID):

3 Sure Gamble + 3 Dirty Laundry + 3 Daily casts – Standard neutral economy package. Dirty Laundry is ESPECIALLY good with your run economy engine. Casts is a bit awkward. If you have to choose between playing it and Patron on turn 1 it is usually correct to play the Patron.

2 Kati Jones – Atman and R&D Interface are expensive to install and you are not running totally freely in the late game. Kati fits perfectly in this deck since you almost always have spare clicks to toss her way. Any turn you feel cramped for clicks just remove an Ashes or two so you can load her still.

2 Desperado – The first time I installed this for 2 credits I lost my mind. In this deck it is not uncommon for Desperado to make you 2-4 credits every turn for the entire game! So often I install Desperado Patron turn 1 and then poke an open HQ twice and steal an agenda. Most people do not expect Shaper to go there for multiple single accesses that early, and Desperado lets you punish these Corps for corner-cutting.

2 Modded – I found that drawing a bunch of R&D interfaces was super awkward since I never wanted to install or discard them early on. Modded lets you get them out of your hand pain-free. Sometimes these only get you 2 credits when you use Modded on Desperado, Atman, or even Plascrete, but they are still liquid money and you are drawing so many cards that you’re never sad to see them.

1 Datasucker – MWL why you do this to me? Ideally the deck would have 2 or maybe even 3 Datasuckers (probably a Stimhack and The Turning Wheel as well), but alas you usually have to SMC for this. This enables your Parasite Atman rig, just watch out for CVS! Run on early clicks against HB still if they might have a CVS down. You can’t afford the tempo hit of reinstalling an Atman. Against Archer decks don’t get greedy, just suck it up and install Atman 6.

Kate – Pretty busted Identity. This makes you about 8-10 credits per game and at the points when you need them the most. People also make a lot of assumptions about what you’re going to be doing when you put down this ID, and with this deck most of those assumptions are totally wrong!

Consistency/Efficiency (14):

3 Patron – The namesake of the deck. This card draws you through your deck like nothing else. It’s not at all uncommon to end the game with fewer than 10 cards left in your deck and not even feeling like the game was that long. There’s no need to ever install more than 1 of these. Also, NBN players can kill this with their stupid Breaking News plays that they are going for more often these days, so hold an extra in hand if you can against them. Against really rushy decks your Patron will be active for the whole game and you will have no trouble keeping up. If you thought John Massanori was good against NEH, wait until you’ve tried Patron! Also, TINY ELEPHANTS!

3 Diesel – These are pretty nice for finding your Patron and keeping you moving when you don’t draw it early. Feel free to still play this if your Patron draw doesn’t get you what you want. You always have Ashes to discard so overdrawing is rarely a concern.

3 Self-Modifying Code – Search for your Datasucker, Parasite, or specialty breaker. I REALLY hate searching for Atman with this. Atman is so expensive so I’d rather install it from hand if I can. Remember to SMC things on the Corp’s turn to save a credit when applicable.

5 Out of the Ashes – I REALLY wanted to find room for 6, but the only cuts that make sense to me are the 3rd Atman or MAYBE The Maker’s Eye. Those slots feel like high enough impact that I want to keep them for now. Ashes means that, first few turns aside, we are kind of running a 40 card deck and at best we are running something like a 35 card deck. These along with Desperado help you keep up with asset spam like nothing else. Naked Agendas NEVER work against this deck, which is very appealing to a low-variance inclined player like me.

Broken Cards (4)

1 Parasite – Once you have sucker counters, this lets you run fear-free. Prioritize your Parasite uses on R&D, since you only have 4 of them at most, but don’t be afraid to use one somewhere else if you think it will land a steal. I’ve even used it on Archives to kill a Pup when the Corp was poor so I could farm Patron runs there.

3 more Parasite I mean… 3 Clone Chip – If you use more than 1 of these on a non-Parasite, you’re doing it wrong. Really try to install your Atmans from your hand so you can save these to kill stuff. Clone Chip Parasite is your ONLY answer to Swordsman so be aware of that when using these up.

Win Conditions (4)

3 R&D Interface – This is your late-game win condition. I’ve never had 3 of these out as often as with this deck. Patron flows them into your hand and Modded gets them out. Before you know it you are poking R&D on click 0 with Ashes for the start of a super threatening turn.

1 The Maker’s Eye – Sometimes it’s YOLO time. Save this until the game is on the line for both players and then go HAM for 5-6 cards and win. Some games against HB end with me getting my rig and/or brain blown up on a hail-mary 6 card Makers that barely gets there in the last 2 cards. It may seem niche but this card has won me too many games already for me to cut it. This is obviously a great tool against NEH as well, where 2 credits for 2 accesses is a great deal at almost any point in the game. The new Exchange of Information decks often force you into a win-now-or-lose-from-tags situation, and Maker’s can help you reach for the last few accesses you need to close out the game.

Ice Breakers (5)

3 Atman – This really could be 2 with perfect piloting, but I’m really liking the crutch of having 3 of these and not having to worry about managing where they end up. I want to be able to lose one to damage and not have to Clone Chip it out. In some of the worse match-ups (like Archer decks) you may even need to install all 3. It comes up very rarely, but enough that I don’t feel safe going down to 2. Don’t have a fixed-mindset about your Atman numbers. This is a tempo deck, so set them to what you need for the situation, although 4 is the most common number for sure. Against HB Atman 3 + Atman 4 will carve through all of their ICE.

1 Inti – I added it as my Wraparound answer, but this card has really impressed me. I’ve gone entire games against NEH and SYNC with it as my only breaker. It stuffs the Wraparound rush harder than even D4v1d does. The more I play with this card, the more I like it. 0 cost is really huge for a tempo deck and lets you install it with a spare click even before you see the Wraparound.

1 Cyber Cypher – 2 of these would also be acceptable, since there is no Scavenge in this deck. This is your answer to remote Turing, but also to garbage Code Gates like Enigma and Quandary on R&D when you don’t want to waste a Parasite. You really don’t want to use this for Lotus Field against Palana Foods, since you will be installing Atman 4 for their Elis anyway, so only Cyber Cypher a Lotus Field if they make a very aggressive rush play and you can’t afford the Atman yet.

Tech Slots (2)

I hate tech cards, but these two are pretty acceptable for an aggressive deck and have already won me several games.

1 Plascrete Carapace – We run a lot and it can take us a while to get rich enough to beat a big trace. Having protection to not get paralyzed by SEA Source, Punative, or Argus fear is nice. 24/7 News Cycle is hard for us to interact with aside from Plascrete.

1 Film Critic – Helps against Midseason Replacements and The Future Perfect. Palana Foods will often somewhat under-defend R&D and HQ against you in the late-game and this can punish their reliance on TFP to keep them safe in that situation.

DumboKate

Final Thoughts: This deck is the first time I’ve really felt comfortable with a Shaper deck (that’s not some stupid Siphon or Vamp abomination). Patron and Desperado help you keep up with fast decks, while Kati, Atman, and Parasite give you the staying power to deal with slower ones. If you don’t know what to do with this deck, attack! Slamming your face into ICE and dealing with the consequences is the best way to learn how to pilot DumboKate. The first time I hit an Architect and still drew 2 and gained a credit I thought “That really wasn’t so bad…”. I’ve been on a monstrous tear with this deck since I built it. That said, it is not truly competitive for a lot of reasons that are not really worth going into here. That didn’t stop me from playing with my Cutlery events and it won’t stop me now. My hope is that someday this shell evolves into a real player in the Meta because it really is fun to play, both with and against.

 

The school year is over! This means I am entering my sweet, sweet teacher-vacation months. I plan on doing a lot of Netrunner streaming over on my twitch channel (twitch.tv/TGTheBigBoy), so check that out if you want to see some of my decks in action!

How I play NBN (Featuring Clickbait)

When someone puts down a yellow Identity, you are probably thinking through these possibilities of what to expect in some order:

  • Fast-Advanced Astroscript Pilot Programs
  • Murder
  • …Psychographics?

…and that’s about it. NBN is a faction where after about 2 turns of poking you are usually close to 100% sure what they are up to. The difficulty in beating yellow decks is usually how fast, reckless, and non-interactive they are.

That’s not how I do things.

When I won my Store Championship this year, Cutlery Whizzard stole the spotlight. No one paid much attention to my Corp deck. It was NEH, why would you? The people I played against definitely got a taste of something special though:

https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/31635/neh-never-advance-semi-glacier-1st-place-mead-hall-store-ch

NEH Never-Advance Semi-Glacier

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center

Agenda (9)

3 AstroScript Pilot Program ☆☆☆

3 Global Food Initiative   •••

1 15 Minutes

2 Project Beale

Asset (11)

3 Daily Business Show

3 Jackson Howard

2 Marked Accounts

3 PAD Campaign

Upgrade (6)

1 Ash 2X3ZB9CY   ••

1 Cyberdex Virus Suite

2 Product Placement

2 SanSan City Grid ☆☆

Operation (7)

3 Hedge Fund

1 Interns

3 Sweeps Week

Barrier (3)

2 Eli 1.0 ☆☆  ••

1 Wraparound

Code Gate (10)

2 Archangel

2 Enigma

3 Pop-up Window

3 Tollbooth

Sentry (3)

1 Ichi 1.0   ••

1 Swordsman   •

1 Turnpike

The Netrunnerdb description says everything that needs to be said about this deck. I knew that this tournament would be the last time I could play it, however, because my Whizzard deck (which is now plaguing the Meta) beats it pretty soundly.

I’ve been working hard to keep this archetype alive, and I think I’ve finally succeeded. Here are some of the revelations I had along the way:

  • Naked assets suck.

Between Whizzard, Imp spam, Astrolabe and Security Testing, the PAD Marked econ package was not going to cut it anymore.

  • Gear-checking is hard.

More than half of the Meta is AI decks, making Enigma and friends the worst they have ever been.

  • Ice Destruction is everywhere…

…and without click-less drip economy, getting a Tollbooth blown up is game-ending.

  • Runners REALLY don’t want to be tagged.

Anarchs have Wyldside, Shapers have Pawnshop and/or Professional Contacts, Noise has Wyldside AND Pawnshop. No one is keeping a tag in the early or mid-game right now.

  • Everyone is really good at interacting with Fast-Advance.

Between Clot and Medium + Turntable, if you go to 0 credits for your 3rd agenda you have often just lost the game.

  • Runner economies have a lot of ramp-up time and upfront cost.

If you can force or trick runners into running early, it can be a huge tempo hit for them, more so than ever before in the game’s history. This is because run-economy is out of favor and burst economy got nerfed when Prepaid VoicePAD got the Most Wanted List treatment. Click-intensive resource economy engines DO NOT want to interact with ICE in the early game.

So I tried to make a deck that forces the runner to interact, and hits them where it hurts when they do: their clicks, their credits, and in some cases, their resources. I also want my ICE to interact favorably with Faust whenever possible. This means maximizing on-encounter abilities and awkward strength thresholds. I don’t want to spam remotes, so the Near-Earth Hub identity is not going to do much for me. All of this led me to building a deck featuring 3 of each of these cards:

TrollpikeBoth of these cards do tremendous work in the Faust and ICE destruction Meta. Their cost-strength ratios are excellent, they are really annoying to run into in the early game, and they interact with Faust incredibly favorably. Getting one of these ICE Parasited and then having its on-encounter effect fire again when it is killed by Datasucker counters is the best exchange against that combo you are ever going to get.

If we are playing Troll and only making 1 remote, our identity has been selected for us. Most people will be happy to see it:

MN

I modeled the rest of the deck after the play-style of my NEH that I loved so much. I switched totally to Burst-economy which meant I had to lower the average cost of the ice, but Troll helps mitigate this a lot. Here it is:

https://netrunnerdb.com/en/decklist/34440/clickbait

Clickbait

NBN: Making News

Agenda (9)

3 AstroScript Pilot Program ☆☆☆

3 Global Food Initiative   •••

1 15 Minutes

2 Project Beale

Asset (5)

3 Jackson Howard

2 Launch Campaign

Upgrade (7)

1 Ash 2X3ZB9CY   ••

2 Bernice Mai

1 Cyberdex Virus Suite

3 SanSan City Grid ☆☆☆

Operation (12)

1 Closed Accounts

3 Hedge Fund

1 Interns

3 Restructure

3 Sweeps Week

1 The All-Seeing I

Barrier (3)

1 Eli 1.0 ☆  •

2 Wraparound

Code Gate (5)

1 Archangel

1 Enigma

2 Pop-up Window

1 Tollbooth

Sentry (8)

1 Assassin

1 Ichi 1.0   ••

3 Troll

3 Turnpike

General Game-plan: Get cheap, annoying ICE down on centrals early and don’t reinforce them unless the runner is committing to them heavily. Make a remote server with an Upgrade and a piece of face-check punishing ICE. Get a read on the runner’s game-plan. If they are giving you your remote, then start never-advancing or Sansan-Fast Advancing agendas. If they are building to threaten the remote, put some garbage in there RIGHT AS they are ready to run. Drain their money with remote plays to open scoring windows, or sneak out cheeky agendas in there when a steal would be too costly for them in the long-term. You only have 9 agendas in your deck (and one is 15 Minutes, which you can re-claim), so it should take a while before the runner is close to game point and can afford to ignore your porous ICE. Ideally you get to 4 points with an Astro counter and a Sansan (even unrezzed) in a really annoying remote. Every card you put in that remote could be the game-ending Global Food Initiative, further enabling your bluffs. Sniff out 2-3 scoring windows and the game is yours.

Is it Enigma Astro, or Turnpike Bernice? Click here to find out now!

Specific Card Choices:

Agendas (9):

3 Astroscript Pilot Program – Still the best agenda in the game. Do not tunnel-vision on Fast-Advance! If I have only 1 Astro scored I will very often burn the counter and a Sansan rez to get a Global Food out from 0 advancements. Getting to game-point is critical and the fewer points the runner has, the easier it is to sell that you just put down another agenda.

3 Global Food Initiative – You can’t score 4 agendas to win in today’s game unless you are going lightning fast. Having 3 of these in your deck can make you incredibly resilient to Turntable so long as you score it last against those decks. It is easier to win from 5 points than from 4 points and an Astro counter. Runners often steal this and groan because they can’t afford to give it to me to take my Astro counter. The math on this card is horrendously unfair for the runner.

2 Project Beale – This agenda sucks, but we need 3/2s to play never-advance. Deal with it. Beale is the worst card in the deck but there’s nothing we can do about that.

1 15 Minutes – This is our Project Junebug, except instead of doing damage it drains the runner’s money. Once you get to 4 points you can install-advance this in your remote and force both a Clot pull AND a remote run, only to reclaim your agenda the next turn. I have won countless games against excellent players with this play, since when you have 3 GFIs in your deck it is the easiest sell in the world. This agenda also makes it so that until the runner is on 6 points we basically only have 16 points in our deck. Good Luck. Feel free to just score this against Criminal in the games where you are 100% on the fast-advance plan, which does sometimes happen.

Economy (11 + 2ish):

3 Sweeps Week, 3 Hedge Fund – Standard NBN operation economy.

3 Restructure – Damn this card is awkward, but it’s really good to have a powerful economy card that Whizzard and Noise can’t interact with easily. If you have this in your opening hand with no other economy be ready to click for some credits…On the other hand, once you’ve played 2 of these you are usually set for the game.

2 Launch Campaign – This is an economy card that doubles as remote-bait. Putting this behind a Turnpike or Pop-up Window early game is a win-win for you. You either get a cheap restructure or you drain the runner’s money and time with your ICE when they are most fragile. Putting this behind Wraparound or Enigma is also fine if you really need the money.

2 Pop-up Window – I actually put one of these on my remote a lot of the time, since that way you can force them to run through it a bunch before it dies, making you 3-4 credits. On R&D it gets run once and then dies when the runner is ready. It’s still pretty good there, but be open to both possibilities for placement.

Win-Conditions (5):

3 Sansan City Grid – Your plan A is to get a Sansan up that the runner never wants to go kill. A key play with this deck is to have a rezzed Sansan and pretend to dig for agendas. Draw a card and go into the think-tank for a good 20 seconds, then put something stupid like a Jackson, Launch, or Bernice on the SanSan and put new ICE on top. This works really when when HQ is open or totally compromised since the runner will think you don’t want to keep your agendas in there. To capitalize on their HQ lock they HAVE to run your remote, falling for your bait. Selling this play is the difference between winning and losing with this deck.

Also, against Clot, ask for actions EVERY TIME you put something on a Sansan and COULD score it. You should already be doing this, but it’s extra important with this deck. I have provoked some ridiculous Clot-pulls…

1 Ash 2X3ZB9CY – This is a nasty surprise for runners who sacrifice their economy and board-state to get into your remote. He combos very well with Bernice Mai, Tollbooth, Turnpike, Pop-Up, and the Bioroids. Ash + Closed Accounts is a great game-ender against runners who go tag-me. Making News makes this guy a Trace 6, which is bonkers. This is my main Interns target.

1 Interns – This is some great Noise hate as well as your 2nd Ash or 4th Sansan. Remember you can also use this to get back your premium ICE (AKA Ichi) if the runner trashes it.

Essentials (4):

3 Jackson Howard – Gets the right tool at the right time and can double as remote-bait. Don’t over-draw aimlessly with Jackson. If you draw too many cards you will hurt your R&D density too much which is one of your deck’s greatest strengths.

1 Cyberdex Virus Suite – Almost every Corp deck should have 1 of these. It can power you through Clot, bail you out on a Medium dig, get your Ichi or Assassin to fire through a Parasite-Datasucker play, or…double as remote bait (I hope you are seeing a pattern here).

Remote Bait (2, but actually 13)

2 Bernice Mai – This is the nastiest surprise that you can find at the bottom of an NBN remote. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a Noise play an Imp and run a remote expecting Sansan and instead found a Bernice with him on low credits and/or no clicks. RIP Wyldside. The Trace 7 from Making News makes paying Bernice off to get her trashed almost impossible for the whole first half of the game, meaning that against many runners she will often stick around in your remote after firing once (even against Whizzard if he had to use his ID credits on a Sansan in the same run). The best thing about Bernice as a trap is that if the runner doesn’t take the bait she will just stick around and hit them eventually, so unlike an asset-trap, she always gets some value. Also, if you have an Ash and the runner is tight on cash you can often stick them with 2 tags. It will make the 15 Minutes they steal at the end of it all just that much more bitter-feeling…

Barriers (3):

2 Wraparound – You do need SOME ICE that ends the run. This is the best Binary ICE against Anarch, since you can rez it early and not open yourself up to a slow parasite like with other cheap EtRs.

1 Eli 1.0 – Still the best taxing ICE in the game. The Synergy with this card, Turnpike, Bernice, and Troll is great. I wish I could have more 😦

Code Gates (5):

2 Pop-Up Window – The best ICE for when you want to protect a central but can’t afford to. 3 of these would be a bit much since we already have Trolls. Pop-up into Troll is a great SanSan server when you are running on low econ. It’s also great for selling an Agenda as a Launch Campaign if you’re feeling cheeky.

1 Archangel – This is great Face-check Punishment ICE for resource-heavy runners. Put this on R&D against Criminals and ruin their day. Put it on HQ against Anarchs since they will poke it early game and lose tempo. By the time they play their D4v1d you probably don’t care about HQ anymore. Put it on your Remote against shaper because 4 credits for a 3 credit tax against Cyber Cypher is the best deal you are going to get. The rare cases where the runner has to pay off a trace 8 are just gravy.

1 Enigma – Sometimes the runner gives you a blatant scoring window. This is the best ICE in the game for capitalizing on that, since it keeps them out and takes a little bit of tempo back, unlike any other EtR. People will never check last click against you out of the fear of tags.

1 Tollbooth – If you draw a lot of money this is an incredible ICE for your remote. The super-rich NEH version had 3 of these, but in the world of Anarchs we can only afford to play 1. Turnpike and Tollbooth into Ash is a great combination against Faust players running on low-econ.

Sentries (8):

3 Troll – Imagine being a runner with Wyldside and Liberated Account out. How annoying is this ICE? Against 0-link runners just stack away. 2-3 of these on R&D and they can kiss their Medium big-dig dreams good-bye. 1-2 on them on the remote and your Bernice/Ash just got that much more annoying. Make sure you tilt the runner by laughing when they begrudgingly Parasite this guy. Laugh harder when they realize that they have to lose yet another click to kill it with Datasucker. Against Siphon spammers stick one of these on HQ ASAP so you can use it to duck siphon since the trace cannot be broken.

3 Turnpike – Remember when the runner hit our Bernice Mai in the early game because it could have been an Astro? It had a turnpike in front of it. That’s 3 clicks and 5 credits wasted on nothing (and that’s if they didn’t trash the Bernice!). The face-check math on this card is the best of any ICE in the game. This ICE can be good everywhere, but it’s best on HQ and your Remote.

1 Assassin – This ICE is awesome against pretty much every breaker suite. Many runners just take the net damage and pay 4 the first time they get surprised by it. Taking the net and paying 6 because of Making News is just unbearable. The only reason the deck doesn’t have more of these is that it’s a bit expensive.

1 Ichi 1.0 – Surprise Ichi wins games. Many top-tier players have fallen victim to my Ichi. No one sees this guy coming. They install their Faust and D4v1d and run the remote and lose all their cards to him. They click the last sub because you’ll make it a trace 3 if they don’t. Then they hit Troll and have to pay 4. It’s beautiful. The best answer to Turnpike is Mimic and the best answer to Mimic is Ichi. I once put a Bernice behind a rezzed Ichi on a remote and the runner “called my bluff”, triple clicking the Ichi, getting tagged and losing their board to All Seeing I. This is the best ICE in the deck. Never cut it. It wrecks on both R&D and the remote.

Tag Punishment (2)

1 All Seeing I – When the runner makes an aggressive play and takes an agenda out of your remote in exchange for a bunch of tags, the tempo loss of paying 4-6 credits and 2-3 clicks can be hard to stomach, especially when you’re looking at a Restructure in hand and sitting on 5-8 credits. This is the situation in which All Seeing I shines. Some skilled runners will make calculated tag-floats knowing that you cannot afford to trash enough things at the time, and this card punishes them. You can also wipe out DLR Maxx with it, which is a nice bonus since, even though it’s not super common, that match-up is pretty awful in every other way.

1 Closed Accounts – Some runners begin to float tags when they have enough money to not care about their resources anymore. They think that if you spend time and money trashing everything they will coast to the end of the game with their current bank. Closed Accounts says no. This card also lets you leverage a last-click Bernice tag even if the runner is rich. If you get Siphoned through a Turnpike this is also some nice revenge.

TRASHING THEIR STUFF – You only need a small bit of tag-punishment in this meta. Everyone shakes.

Final Thoughts:

It’s a rough time to be a Corp. The need to leverage your own skill and the runner’s mistakes and lapses in judgment is at an all-time high. I think this deck allows you to do that very well. It is also an EXCELLENT deck for upping your Corp fundamentals. It is extremely unforgiving for both you and the runner, so mistakes on both sides should be pretty obvious. Playing this against a traditional remote-camping shaper with Clot is a great way for you and a friend to improve together!

MN screen cap

That card in the remote could be a GFI. Do you want to come find out? Enjoy the deck!

-TheBigBoy

PerfumeShop: A True Runner Control Deck

Sometimes very simple cards lead your deck-building to totally new places. Such was the case for me when I opened Kala Ghoda and really took a good look at this card:

High-Stakes_Job

The math on this card is great! If Dirty Laundry is 3 credits for 0 clicks, then this card is 6 credits for 0 clicks. That kind of raw, numeric power cannot be ignored. If Eli 1.0 has taught us anything, it’s that potential drawbacks and conditions can usually be off-set enough to take advantage of good stats. Here were my thoughts on making High Stakes Job work:

  • This card is amazing when the Corp has 0 credits. The more aggressive we are and the more credit denial we play, the better it is going to be. Since our deck will be Blue (I’m not splashing a 3-influence econ card), we will obviously have 3 Account Siphon which is this card’s best friend.
  • This card works well with criminal derez effects even beyond the extent that they are denial cards. If you know what an ICE is, you can make your run considerably less High-Stakes.
  • We probably want an AI breaker. If we have to assemble a full or nearly full rig before playing this, it is probably not worth the effort over a more reliable economy card like Daily Casts (which is usually only 1-2 credits worse).

My mind at this point immediately went back to Faust Gabe. Perhaps this was the card to bring that deck back from its post-MWL grave. There is an obvious problem with this card in that deck though. When you play Faust Gabe, you either have essentially infinite credits, or very very few credits. Getting from 6 to 12-15 is not as interesting as for other decks. If I’m breaking for 0, why do I need 12?

There is another AI breaker though, one that has been mostly sitting on the bench lately while Faust enjoys its time in the spotlight. This breaker can definitely make good use of 12 credits:

Eater

Nom nom nom. The more I thought about it, the more Eater just made sense. Security Testing and Account Siphon weren’t going to access cards anyway. I thought “This is so cool, I can run for Security Testing into HQ as Gabe. If they let me in then I get 5 credits and if they don’t I can break with Eater, getting my money back and then some!” Then I realized something that should have been obvious. As soon as HQ is 4 credits or more for Eater (which is not at all hard to do), this is all a gigantic waste of time. If only there was a card that let Eater break all that HQ ICE for free…

Pheromones

That’s right. Pheromones. It was all coming together. Run HQ for free to gain 5 credits (and yet another Pheromones Counter), and Emergency Shutdown the Corp’s HQ ICE. Next turn High Stakes Job back in for ALL THE MONEY. I’m not sure I can even count that high (seriously though, you get 11 credits from 1 click).

I imagined what the Corp might do is just give up on HQ, rezzing a single small piece of ICE to stop accesses and just let me get my money, making my Pheromones useless. Well we can’t have that can we? What’s a good way to make use of 10-15 unused recurring credits during a run on HQ?…

Vamp

Now we’re talking. This is starting to look like a BigBoy deck. Here’s what I arrived on after this High Stakes Job, Eater, Pheromones brainstorming session (Thanks to SimonMoon for the brilliant name):

Meteor Link

Perfume Shop (45 cards)
Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional

 

Event (20)
3 Account Siphon
3 Dirty Laundry
3 Emergency Shutdown
2 High-stakes Job
2 Inside Job
1 Levy AR Lab Access ···
2 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble
1 Vamp ··

 

Hardware (3)
3 Desperado ◦◦◦

 

Resource (9)
1 Hades Shard ·
2 John Masanori
3 Same Old Thing
3 Security Testing

 

Icebreaker (6)
1 Breach
1 Eater ···
2 Faerie
1 Mongoose
1 Passport

 

Program (7)
2 Crescentus
1 Keyhole ···
2 Pheromones
2 Sneakdoor Beta

 

General Game-Plan: Slow the Corp down with Gabe’s built in early pressure, punishing them with Eater + Account Siphon if they make a remote play too quickly. Deny long-term economy and try to get as much free Security Testing money as possible. Once the Corp has properly sealed off their centrals, we will hopefully have Desperado, Eater, Security Testing, John Massanori, and Phromones out (or most of these pieces. We won’t always need them all depending on the Corp’s ICE spread). At this point we have total control. We can take 5 credits and a card every single turn. We can Emergency Shutdown whatever and whenever we want. We can Full-Value Account Siphon at will. Once a Criminal deck (especially Gabe) has control over HQ, the game unravels quickly for the Corp. At some point it is possible that the Corp is able to keep run-ending ICE rezzed on all relevant servers, but this should take so long that we can realistically have over 50 credits. At this point we can nail them with Vamp, Derez most, if not all, of R&D, and drop Keyhole to close the game.

Economy (16)

3 Desperado – Don’t play another Criminal console, even with the 3 influence penalty. This card makes absurd amounts of money. It is one of the only cards in the game that continues to make money even without you trying, which naturally makes it an even better fit for a Vamping deck.

3 Sure Gamble, 3 Dirty Laundry – Standard Criminal burst economy. These are necessary to pay the install costs of our rig and deal with early-game trashing.

2 High Stakes Job – Dirty Laundry on steroids. Once you get your Eater Security Testing engine online it can take a few turns to start turning a significant profit. This card catapults you into big-number territory and makes you an immediate threat. Sometimes the Corp doesn’t start with a Hedge fund and spends all of their money rezzing on HQ turn 1 or 2. This can let you drop a High-Stakes when the Corp is on 0, which speeds up your set-up a lot. Even though this is the card I started this whole brainstorm with, I only want to run 2 since it can be blank sometimes, and you NEVER want to draw multiples early.

3 Security Testing – Punish asset economy, force rezzes, and seriously milk HQ with Eater, all for 0 credits. Make sure you don’t play a Siphon/Vamp after declaring this on HQ (looking at you, Thebigunit3000 🙂 ). After Desperado, this is the best card to see in your opening hand.

2 Pheromones – This card is so funny. One of the Corp’s natural responses to Gabe is to pile ICE sky-high on HQ. Eater Pheromones laughs at this. Once you get to a certain point, the Jellyfish Army isn’t even worth purging anymore, since the unspent credits from the previous turn stay on the card for one more use even though the virus counters are gone! Unless they for some reason have porous ICE on HQ or refuse to shut off your Sneakdoor, this is typically not worth playing until you have Eater out (or another breaker that’s getting you in).

Denial (11)

3 Emergency Shutdown – I would probably play 5 of these if I could. When you are hitting HQ for a profit every turn, this card just feels dirty. One of the best answers to Gabe is a Tollbooth on HQ and 3 copies of this card shuts that plan down, literally.

2 Crecentus – Hey, it’s Shutdowns 4-5. The fact that this takes MU is annoying, but you can work around it (don’t play your 5th MU unless you are sure you need to). Front-loading the click is nice though. I find that it is often best to save these for your Vamp turn, letting you get genuine accesses in HQ after you drain them to 0. Crecentus is better than Shutdown for this because it saves you a click when it matters. Having this + Faerie out means no one will ever rez an expensive Sentry against you.

3 Account Siphon – Your goal with this card is not to pin the Corp on 0. Its best use is making remote plays. When the Corp goes for a score or a big economy play like Sundew or Breaker Bay Grid + Adonis Campaign, relying on Eater for most of our breaking is annoying. Account Siphon + Inside Job will get you into most remotes though. You almost always shake the tags from your Siphons. Only Float in match-ups where they have no punishment and Security Testing is less valuable (Against something like Greenhouse rush, for example), or if you know you can lock the Corp on close to 0 for a very very long time and close the game before your money dries up.

1 Vamp – This is the nail in the coffin. This deck paralyzes the Corp, putting the game in stasis while you make a huge amount of money and Pheromones counters, until the right moment when you Vamp into a remote run or Vamp into several turns of free Keyhole runs. Since you have 3 Same Old Things you can fire this early to bust a remote if you get a chance and can still have it when you need it later. Even though the deck only has 1 of this card, and it is a huge part of your strategy, you only need it at the very end of the game, and by that point you have usually drawn most of your deck.

2 Inside Job – When you can’t actually access cards most of the time, it can be nice to get into at least trivial remote-defenses. This card, sometimes combined with one or two of your actual breakers, is a good way to deal with Crisium Grid on HQ as well.

Icebreakers (8)

1 Eater – The Centerpiece of our rig. You only have 1 copy and basically no recursion for it so DO NOT GET THIS KILLED OR NET DAMAGED. People actually run Swordsman now. It’s a big deal. Sometimes you can’t or shouldn’t afford to play around it but if you have time to, DO IT. If you see the Corp drawing relentlessly and then finally putting an ICE on HQ, there is a good chance that it’s a Swordsman. Get a Faerie or Mongoose out quickly if there is any reasonable chance of running into the card. It is usually better to be safe than sorry.

2 Faerie – Protects your Eater from Swordsman and protects you from Architect Face-checks against HB. This may seem weird, but if you run into an early Komainu it can sometimes be better to lose your hand than to use your Faerie. Decks with Komainu often also have a Swordsman or even two, and without your Faerie you may not be able to run for a long time.

1 Mongoose – Your permanent Faerie as far as Swordsman is concerned. I’ve been super impressed with this card. It’s not great as a main breaker but as an AI support card it’s WAY better than Alias. This is very often part of your final rig since Swordsman can crop up out of literally any deck.

1 Breach – Wraparound is annoying. Even with Breach it is probably the single best ICE against this deck. Once you get the Breach out it is nothing, but the Breach is often totally useless otherwise so this is a big pain.

1 Passport – Turing on HQ looks silly once you play this. Passport is also just a great breaker by itself. Breaking HQ Enigma for 1 with a 1 credit install cost is great. I love when I draw this naturally and they start with a small Code Gate on HQ.

2 Special Order – I started with 3, but this proved unnecessary. It turns out that Inside Job, Emergency Shutdown, and Sneakdoor Beta can still get you pretty far with no breakers and by the time you need your Eater or your specialty breaker you have usually drawn one of these or the program itself.

Card Draw/Recursion (6)

2 John Massanori – We don’t really make unsuccessful runs, and we make a run every turn. John is literally as strong as possible in this deck. You’re basically taking 5-click turns once this is out. Make sure that you use Eater to finish runs when you have this out (unless they are crazy expensive). Not having to deal with the tag is a big deal, and you’ll get your Desperado credit back as well.

3 Same Old Thing – Use this on Account Siphon, Emergency Shutdown, Inside Job, Vamp, Levy, or even a High-Stakes Job if you really need to. This card is super flexible in this deck and I am never sad to see it.

1 Levy AR Lab Access – It’s kind of strange. I originally had a Déjà vu for emergency recursion but I found my deck ran out a surprising amount against players who just refuse to do anything but pile ICE on centrals. I’m not super sure about this slot. It has totally saved the game for me a few times, but is usually dead. I could see cutting it (maybe for a 2nd Eater) but I know the deck would take a hand-full of auto-losses if I did. Having this in your deck also lets you leverage John Massanori to play aggressively against PE, so that’s a nice bonus.

Win Conditions (4)

1 Keyhole – Don’t be in a hurry to play this (except against rush decks, against which you can feel free to go nuts). When you drop this you probably cannot play a Sneakdoor for the rest of the game, and that’s a lot to lose. It’s usually best to wait to play this until the Corp is basically out of the game and winning is a formality. This card just gets it done quicker than anything else and actually works with Eater, unlike other multi-access.

1 Hades Shard – Some people try to get clever and lock you out of archives or lean on a protected Jackson. This card ends their shenanigans. This also gets you free wins against IG sometimes, which is a deck a lot of people are toying with right now.

2 Sneakdoor Beta – This is also an economy card, but I put it in this category because it’s actually one of the main ways I end up getting points. If I know they are holding agendas (nothing has come out of HQ but ICE for a while), I’ll take their money, shutdown archives if necessary and then hit them through Sneakdoor a few times. This is also a way to assassinate early HQ upgrades like Crisium Grid and Caprice Nisei.

Eater_Gabe

Final Thoughts: This deck is very funny, and I really enjoy playing it. That said, it’s a long way off from being totally competitive. Wraparound out of a fast deck is a massive pain, pop-up on R&D makes you sad post-vamp, pop-up on HQ can feed the Corp a lot of money, and once someone starts an Astro train you don’t really have much recourse besides going all-in on your one Keyhole. The Astrobiotics match-up aside, this deck is far from a joke. I really like how it makes you think creatively and really assess the type of game you are in. Should I use shutdowns now to slow down the Corp, or should I save them for after the Siphon/Vamp? Should I not let the Corp rez remote ICE so I can get in after I zero them out, or should I force all the rezzes so they are poor and I can devastate a central with a Shutdown? I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Contact me any time in the comments here or on the Stimhack forums or Slack channel with your thoughts.

-TheBigBoy

Aside: The Edward Kim deck from last article has evolved into the post-MWL monster that is Cutlery Whizzard (which apparently will now be called “Dumblefork”). As I write this, it is considered the best Runner deck in the game by many of the highest caliber players. Remember that it began with a binder-dig and an unplayable ID? Fun decks that you build don’t have to be competitive right away. Stick with them over a long period of time and let them evolve. Don’t give up on a good idea just because it’s not perfect against the currently established decks. After months of persistence, you never know what you might end up with…

 

…Of course, if the idea sucks you should probably bail on the deck. Make sure the idea is good 😉

Update: Since writing this, the need for a Levy has proven to be a fluke. I have removed it to upgrade the Breach to a Corroder and for 1 Akamatsu Memchip. The Memchip has been great for making the Keyhole transition much less painful in the super lategame.

A One-Armed ICE Feast: Smashing Servers with Edward Kim

I build a lot of decks. I think experimenting with new ideas and seeing what does and does not work about them is a great way to get a better understanding of Netrunner. My deck-building process usually starts with the binder. I flip through the pages of un-played cards looking for hidden gems or synergies. About a month ago, a few cards stood out to meCutlery

Anyone who plays a reasonable amount of Netrunner probably got excited about these cards when they first read them. Here’s why I think now is the time for a heavy-Cutlery deck:

  1. ALL THE BIOROIDS. Eli 1.0 and Ichi 1.0 get wrecked by these cards. Forked is probably the single cleanest answer to Ichi 1.0 in the entire game. Arguably the strongest Corp deck right now (HB Glacier) plays 3 copies of each of these.
  1. The prevalence of Cyberdex Virus Suite and ways to recur it (and rez it for free) has made Parasite and Datasucker far less reliable than they have ever been. You just can’t run in to blow up an Assassin with Datasucker counters and get hit by a CVS. Also, Datasucker counters are just hard to get in the first place nowadays.
  1. Global Food Initiative has slowed down the game a lot. A slow game makes ICE destruction more powerful and more important.

Plenty of people have tried to build “The Cutlery Deck”. Sadly, such a thing never really came together. People have run the occasional 1x Knifed or 1x Spooned to spice up their deck, but never seem to take the plunge. The community has seemed to decide on a few problems with these cards:

  1. You probably can’t destroy things for a while since you have to have the matching Cutlery event AND breaker for the ICE the Corp has rezzed. This means that you could have 1-2 of these events sitting in your hand for almost the whole game. Anarch is a faction that has to click to draw a lot so having effective brain damage is very annoying.
  1. If you play Eater (which came out in the same box as these events) to circumvent half of the puzzle, you inherit all of the problems that come with that card. I’ll not enumerate them here, but there are quite a few of them.
  1. If the Corp keeps unrezzed ICE in front of the ICE you want to destroy, it can mess up your plans.
  1. Cutlery takes up a lot of deck slots and always seems to be the 46th card that gets cut.

These are all great points, and from them we can draw some conclusions:

  1. Cutlery probably demands an AI breaker to get used in a timely manner.
  1. Cutlery is probably best in a deck that does not mind having some dead draws.
  1. Since they can’t be searched for in any way, Cutlery probably needs to be in a deck that draws a ton of cards.
  1. Since they eat up a lot of space, Cutlery demands a deck with high-impact, slot-efficient cards.

This leads us to a single conclusion. Sorry to be so redundant with the last article, but when good cards get printed I like to play with them:

Faust

Faust makes Cutlery very interesting. Who cares if you have to discard 3 cards to break something if you only have to do it once! I sat on this line of thinking for a long time, but couldn’t think of what exactly I wanted the rest of my Faust-Cutlery deck to look like. Then I saw another Binder card: An ID that gets absolutely no respect (and probably rightfully so).

Eddie

The community has a lot to say about Edward as well. Most Corps just play their operations as soon as they draw them, and when HB Glacier runs 3-5 operations, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to go with Mr. Kim. I asked myself, “What does being Edward Kim really do for you?” Here’s what I came up with.

  1. Against low-ICE kill decks, Edward is a huge nuisance. Scorched Earth, 24/7 News Cycle, Midseason Replacements, Neural EMP, and even Mushin No Shin are all cards that sit in HQ until the right moment, giving you plenty of chances to swat them out of the Corp’s hands.
  1. Against decks that have a typical number of operations, Edward has some nice synergy with Medium, essentially giving you a free Imp counter during each dig.
  1. Early on, your ID gives the Corp slightly more reason to rez on HQ. Maybe they only have 1 Agenda and would just let you in normally, but if they have an operation along with that, it may be enough to entice them to put the shields up. If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am of the opinion that forcing substantive ICE to be rezzed on HQ is one of the best things you can do early game as the runner.
  1. That Link tho.

When a lot of players see Edward, they try to maximize his ID ability to create some weird “Trash everything” theme-deck. They run jank like Gang Sign + HQ Interface, Hemorrhage, and Wanton Destruction, trying to blow up as much of HQ as possible, as if that is a primary path to victory (it’s not). This got me thinking that maybe the best way to use Edward’s ability is to just…not use it. Edward’s ability provides tiny blips of value throughout the game, but its biggest selling point is that you are REALLY hard to kill (especially with 3 I’ve Had Worse added in). Imagine that we could build a runner deck that is impossible to kill. What corners could we cut in deck-building?

  1. We could run really low-econ. Perhaps even with no sustained/infinite economy engine.
  1. We could run more aggressively.

…and most importantly:

  1. We could tech our ENTIRE 45 to beat OTHER prominent decks.

This was when my two thought experiments came together. What if Ed Kim is the home of the Cutlery deck? When I ran Faust Gabe into the ground, my worst match-ups were always kill decks, and when I went up to 2 Plascretes from 0 I started to lose too much in the HB match-up. I was ready to be invincible…

http://netrunner.meteor.com/decks/jne6KFsmsRxChpomf
EDDIE SMASH (45 cards)
Edward Kim: Humanity’s Hammer

 

Event (14)
2 Career Fair · ·
2 Forked
3 I’ve Had Worse
2 Knifed
1 Levy AR Lab Access ···
1 Spooned
3 Sure Gamble

 

Hardware (4)
2 Clone Chip ·· ··
2 Desperado ··· ···

 

Resource (12)
2 Adjusted Chronotype
3 Daily Casts
3 Liberated Account
1 Same Old Thing
3 Wyldside

 

Icebreaker (4)
1 Corroder
2 Faust
1 Mimic

 

Program (11)
2 D4v1d
2 Datasucker
2 Imp
2 Medium
3 Parasite

General Game-Plan: Use burst econ, Datasucker, Desperado, Parasite, and Eddie’s ability to threaten the Corp early and slow them down while you get Wyldside + Adjusted Chronotype online. Once you have Faust in play and are starting your turn with a 7-card hand, string together a chain of Cutlery events to tear down the Corp’s entire R&D (or remote server, if applicable). Use Medium to close the game, threatening Clone Chip + Parasucker to keep the lock going. If the Corp is playing a kill deck against which the ICE destruction + Medium plan is less relevant, Eddie’s ability and I’ve Had Worse should keep you safe while you carefully dissect them.

Card Explanations:

Economy/Efficiency Cards (17):

3 Sure Gamble, 3 Daily Casts, 3 Liberated Account – This is the standard modern Anarch Economy package. All of these cards are excellent and highly deck-slot efficient. However, they have something in common: They are terrible at getting you back from low credits. When you access that Jackson on 5 credits, think very hard about your ability to bounce back if you choose to trash. Also be careful about going too low for a Wyldside early on. Clicking back up can be a slow process…

2 Career Fair – This really helps mitigate the downside of Daily Casts’ and Liberated Account’s set-up costs. Our deck has 11 targets for this, so it’s pretty much never dead. This makes turn 1 Wyldside WAY better. You could experiment with Dirty Laundry as well if you have other plans for this 2 influence, but I like how unconditional, easy, and fast Career Fair is.

2 Desperado – So I had 6 influence left… With our AI breaker rig we don’t need the 2 MU of Grimoire, and Desperado is REALLY good when a server has no ICE. Desperado + Datasucker is also great HQ and Archives pressure. If the Corp lets you, feel free to farm these servers 2013 Andromeda style (Spoiler: They won’t let you). Along with Imp, Desperado makes our horizontal asset-spam match-up much better.

2 Imp – This was a late addition and really helps combat the principal problem with Anarch economy packages. This lets you trash that turn 2 Sansan or Pad Campaign without ruining your tempo. These are also the final nail in the coffin for Corps trying to kill us. Have you ever trashed 2 Scorched Earths in one turn? It’s funny. Imp also nicely synergizes with ICE destruction, since you can trash potential replacement ICE out of centrals, reducing or sometimes eliminating the Corp’s options.

2 Datasucker – These keep our Faust-usage efficient by lowering strength 3 and 5 ICE to even numbers. Also, even though Parasite-Datasucker is the weakest it has ever been, it’s still easily worth running almost in any Anarch deck.

0 KATI JONES – We are abandoning long-term sustained econ, as per our advantage I cited earlier. All of our late-game breaking is done with Faust.

ICE Destruction (11)

2 Knifed – I don’t always see barriers, but when I do, they’re Eli. This is the most efficient answer to Eli in the game, and every Glacier deck runs 3 of him. Also, you can totally discard 3-4 cards for a Wraparound if it’s going to blow up afterwards. Sometimes you play against Blue Sun and use D4v1d + Knifed to kill a hard-rezzed Curtain Wall they were planning to bounce next turn. That wins the game.

2 Forked – Ichi 1.0 is the bane of runners these days, and Forked makes smashing Ichis your Day Job. Sadly you can’t kill Architect, and a smart and patient Corp who somehow knows you have Forked will shield their Ichi with one. One trick you can do is Fork the server and only break 1 of the Architect subs, allowing you to trigger the Forked on the Ichi behind it. This play is not always a good idea, but you should keep an eye out for it.

1 Spooned – I only have 1 Spooned because the only Code Gates right now that are great targets are Tollbooth and Archangel. You don’t run HB’s remote server more than 3 times typically, so using this on a Turing with D4v1d is not really necessary. The other Code Gates people run are usually pretty small and you can just Parasite them.

3 Parasite – You don’t want to use Cutlery on small, cheap ICE, but such ICE are exactly the ones that fold to Parasite. What’s left to say about this card? It’s still the best runner card in the game. It continues to take hits to its power-level as the environment fights back, but it still dismantles a Corp’s board and warps their play like no other card can.

1 Same Old Thing – This has to be in the deck for Levy security, but if the Levy is near the bottom of your deck or you have no chance of losing it, you can freely use this for the Cutlery event of your choice. Don’t discard this to Faust. I regret it every time I do, which wasn’t true with the Gabe deck. I wish I could find room for more than 1 of these. I had 2 before I added the Imps.

2 Clone Chip – You can also use these on D4v1d or Imp, but Parasite is obviously what these are for. A great trick is running an ICE with Faust, a Clone Chip and some sucker counters with no Parasites in the yard while the Corp has a Cyberdex Virus Suite. If they do not use their CVS before encounter you can discard the Parasite to boost Faust, sucker the ICE, and Clone Chip the Parasite to blow it up, all with no CVS window. #HBTears. Some players know this trick and will blow their CVS when you don’t even have the Parasite in hand!

Card Draw (9)

3 Wyldside 2 Adjusted Chronotype – These serve the purpose of the Drug Dealers in the Faust Gabe deck. You need click-less draw to not open scoring-windows too readily when you use Faust on R&D. If you start the game with burst economy + this combo it’s extremely hard to lose. Noise players should be familiar with this concept :P. If you don’t have burst, Credit, Credit, Wyldside Chronotype is a fine first turn. You may have to take 4 the next turn if you don’t draw a Daily Casts or Career Fair, but you’ll be set up far better than if you try to Click to draw into econ first.

3 I’ve Had Worse – The PE/Killteki Match-up is trivial with these + Levy, and since we want a bit more card-draw anyway, making our Scorched Earth match-up even more awesome can’t hurt.

1 Levy AR Lab Access – I use this in about 20 – 30% of games, but every single one of those would be losses if I didn’t have it. The look on the Corp’s face when you reload your Silverware-Shotgun is priceless.

Win Condition/Multi-access (2)

2 Medium – The best card for punishing a Corp with no ICE on R&D. This is your most relevant card against Fast Advance. If they can get up 5-0 you can still open R&D and lock them out. Because of Ed Kim’s ability not even Fast Track can save them!

Ice Breakers (6)

2 Faust – I started with 3, but I found that I always drew multiples before I even needed to play one. I cut one when I added the Imps and haven’t missed the 3rd. If you’re wondering why I seem addicted to Faust lately, I did some introspection and came up with this:

Aside: Some abstract theory stuff

Glacier decks have gotten to a point where even the most efficient breaker suites get taxed out in phase 3. You can have a full Anarch rig with ICE Carver and Net-Ready Eyes and an HB’s R&D could still be 8+ Credits. Runner sustained economy can’t keep up. Both Kati Jones and Magnum Opus are too slow and awkward. This leads me to believe that the solution to glacier is to focus your economy slots on Burst econ only, transitioning in the late-game into money-less breaking via Faust or Stealth. I plan to play pretty much exclusively with Faust or Switchblade suites until I feel this change.

1 Mimic – Architect is annoying. You can discard 2-3 cards to it for a while, but eventually you want to be able to pay 2 credits instead. You don’t need the Mimic in a hurry, but you do need it eventually, so 1 copy is perfect. Also, Swordsman is a card that some people think is playable.

1 Corroder – You don’t want to always have to Knife Wraparound. Corroder is just good enough that having one is nice value. Wall of Static is annoying for Faust. You would rather pay 2 credits than discard 2 cards a lot of the time.

2 D4v1D – This card + Cutlery wins you the game when the Corp rezzes big ICE. Tollbooth, Assassin, Ichi 2.0, and many others represent a significant investment for the Corp. Having them blown up for a few credits and some counters is heart-breaking.

Eddie_Smash

Final Thoughts: This deck is a blast to play. I’ve had very good success against Glacier decks and Kill decks. If I’m being honest with myself the Astrobiotics match-up is not amazing, but your 2 Mediums and 2 Knifed actually make big-digging them pretty reasonable, and I don’t think the match-up is worse than 40%. Is this the best way to play Edward Kim?  Probably. Is Edward Kim the best ID for this strategy? Maybe. You can play this shell out of almost any Anarch runner! Try it out of Whizzard if you want to really bury HB Glacier. Try it out of Reina to ruin Blue Sun’s fun or to add some econ denial spice to the ICE destruction, all while keeping your sweet, sweet 1 link. Try Valencia if you want Blackmail to scare off early scoring attempts, and get some help with trashing and running through Pop-up Windows. Try Quetzal if you…want to be a bird? Perhaps the best build is a Whizzard one that cuts the 2 Imps for 2 Plascretes. Take some of these for a spin and let me know what you think! Leave me a comment here, message me on the Stimhack forums, or tag me on the Stimhack Slack chat with any thoughts or questions.

Until next month, I leave you with this, the sound of glacier tears:

-Abram (TheBigBoy)

On Drugs and Devils: A New Breed of Aggressive Criminal

This article is a primer on a Criminal deck that I have been playing for quite some time (I built it the day The Universe of Tomorrow came out on OCTGN). Like most decks I champion, it has a vastly different play-pattern from pretty much any deck out there. You can win a lot of games with just its raw power, but with practice it can become truly terrifying and befuddling for your opponent.

Criminal is in a bit of a rut currently, as I’m sure you are aware. The community has been wracking their brains for quite some time to flesh out exactly what has toppled the Blue tyrant off of its pedestal. For more background on this discussion, check out these great reads:

Dave Hoyland: http://netrunners.co.uk/articles/perfect%20blue.html

El-ad David Amir: http://netrunners.co.uk/articles/imperfect%20blue.html

Here are some of the frequently cited reasons:

  • Too much influence tied down in Icebreakers.
  • No good in-faction card draw.
  • No good in-faction answer to cheap, taxing ICE like Eli 1.0 and Pup.
  • Dependence on Security Testing.
  • Running out of steam after the early game.
  • Getting locked out by surprise program trashing that out-ranges Mimic.

Let’s solve some problems.

Here is the list:

http://netrunner.meteor.com/decks/JitsdJQNahez4khXn
Faust Gabe (45 cards)
Gabriel Santiago: Consummate Professional
Event (19)
3 Account Siphon
3 Dirty Laundry
2 Emergency Shutdown
3 Fisk Investment Seminar
2 Inside Job
1 Levy AR Lab Access ···
2 Special Order
3 Sure Gamble
Hardware (7)
1 Clone Chip ··
3 Desperado
2 HQ Interface
1 R&D Interface ··
Resource (9)
3 Bank Job
3 Drug Dealer
3 Same Old Thing
Icebreaker (4)
1 Breach
2 Faerie
1 Faust ··
Program (6)
2 Datasucker · ·
2 Parasite ·· ··
2 Sneakdoor Beta

General Game-Plan: Do the Gabe thing early game. Pound HQ for money until they rez. Use Bank Job, Dirty Laundry, Desperado, and Gabe money to kill any long-term economy the Corp tries to set up. The Yellow Man must die; Jacksons in HQ are Kill On Sight, usually even if it costs all of your money. You will be glad you did it later. Be relentless. For example, if the Corp rezzes an Eli 1.0 on HQ, click through it aggressively (click through pretty every turn if you have Desperado + another benefit such as Datasucker, HQI, Dirty Laundry, or Account Siphon). Once they lock down HQ, drop a Sneakdoor and keep slamming them. While you spend pretty much all of your clicks running and slowing down the Corp, Drug Dealer can hook you up with the cards you need to keep the pressure on, and Parasite can tick away at particularly annoying ICE. Once the Corp has turtled up and stabilized you should hopefully have at least 2-4 points. At this point you can drop Faust and go into Hail-Mary mode, using Fisk Investment Seminar and HQ Interface to get tons of very random accesses that are difficult for the Corp to interact with. It is VERY hard to get a remote established against this deck’s extremely heavy pressure, not even considering its Inside Jobs and AI breaker. The Corp will have no place to put agendas, bleeding points until they lose.

Card explanations:

Economy Cards (14 + ID)

3 Desperado – This can make you upwards of 20-30 credits in a game if you are playing correctly. It reduces the trash costs on Assets by 1, lets you click through HQ Elis fairly painlessly, and lets you check R&D for free accesses without losing Tempo. This is still why you play Criminal.

3 Sure Gamble – This is amazing in the first phase of the game, and often Faust food in the later stages. Sure Gamble -> Desperado -> Run HQ -> Drug Dealer is a great start.

3 Dirty Laundry – This card may be better than Sure Gamble in this deck. You often have a ton of cards and you make so many runs that this is essentially a click-less “Discard this: Gain 3 Credits”, which is obviously busted with Drug Dealer. Also combos well with Bank Job.

3 Bank Job – Sexy Bots, PAD Campaigns, and SanSans must die, and this is the perfect weapon for taking them out. With our strategy demanding multiple ICE on all centrals, the Bank Jobs are usually trivial to fire. They also combo nicely with Fisk Investment Seminar, since many corps will spam all the assets they draw to clear out their hand, giving you easy targets. When your Drug habit takes you down to 0 credits this is the perfect way to bounce back. Robbing a Bank because you need Drug money just feels so believable.

2 Datasucker – This makes breaking Architect and other 3 strength ICE with Faust palatable. It also lets us blow up big things with Parasite, although this comes up less often than in an Anarch deck. You’re not actually in a hurry to install this, since you don’t have fixed breakers that depend on it to function. If you have really pressing things to do it can be pretty greedy to spend a click and a credit installing this when you won’t really need that many counters.

Gabriel Santiago, Consummate Professional – A lot of people have tried playing this concept out of other Criminals, particularly Andromeda and Leela. The synergy between breaking for 0 with Faust and then getting 3 credits back is incredible. You can Dirty Laundry into HQ on 2 credits and come out with 8! That’s stupid. Gabe also forces rezzes like no one else, sometimes setting up blowout early game Siphons or double Siphons that win the game on the spot. One of the best things you can do in Netrunner is force the Corp to defend a server that they don’t want to care about, and Gabe does that better than any other runner.

Denial Cards and Disruption Tools (9)

3 Account Siphon – You know what’s better than getting 10 credits? Getting 13 Credits. Knowing whether to shake your tags or not is often a tough choice with this deck. Always remember that just because you plan to shake eventually doesn’t mean you have to shake right away. A play I often make when I feel myself losing tempo from my first Siphon is to drop 2 Drug Dealers and shake 2 Tags with Faust in play, going into no-money mode for a while. Other games I just spam Siphons and float a huge pile of tags, using Drug Dealers as more of a Tag-Me resource like Joshua B, except a bit better because you get a card back right away. Often times the Corp can’t stomach the tempo hit of trashing your stuff and you will just get to keep your toys anyway.

2 Parasite – For a deck that slows down the game by forcing rezzes, Parasite is perfect. This also gives you quite a versatile solution to otherwise quite problematic cards like a Swordsman or Turing on HQ. You usually don’t have to hold these for anything in particular, just slap them on whatever you see and let them tick away. Finding the time to purge a Parasite is next to impossible against Gabe. You can also blow up bigger ICE with Datasucker in the usual way, although beware of Cyberdex Virus Suite when making this play against a Sentry or Blue Sun.

2 Emergency Shutdown – Sometimes people think it’s a good idea to lock Gabe out with a turn 1 Tollbooth Rez on HQ. Inside job or Sneakdoor into Shutdown should teach them otherwise. Also, Account Siphon -> Emergency Shutdown -> Inside Job remains an incredible mid-late game remote busting play. Clicking through Eli on HQ, gaining 3, and then shutting down the Eli is a totally reasonable play in the world of Drug Dealer.

2 Inside Job – This is really a denial card at heart, but it does a ton of work in this deck. It locks out remotes, saves you cards on an HQ run you would make anyway, defuses Cricium Grids at minimum cost, and enables blowout early game Emergency Shutdown plays. This card is pretty much never dead, and I Same Old Thing for it even more than Account Siphon, which perhaps is a sign that I should have 3 copies. There are only 2 for now just because drawing more than 1 at once is usually not great.

ICE Breakers (4, that’s right, 4)

1 Faust – This is our centerpiece, the 3 credit 1 MU instant rig. Gabe has always loved AI breakers, from the Knights of old, to Timmy Wong’s Overmind at Worlds 2014, nothing says Tempo like a cheap-to-install AI. How about one that takes no credits to use? Having no fear of going to 0 credits really opens up a lot of awesome plays. You can always bounce back in just a couple clicks with a Faust-Fueled HQ run or a Faust-Powered Bank Job. As long as you have 1 credit, you can always run HQ and have enough credits to steal an NAPD. I could have 2 Faust in here, but then I would have to cut a Parasite, which is unimaginable to me.

2 Faerie – This deals with Archer, Swordsman, Tsurugi, and Komainu, which are typically a massive problem for Faust. The former is a great Shutdown target after you Faerie it and the latter three can eat a Parasite. It’s also nice to stuff early Architects. I could see running 3 of these, but I honestly haven’t needed them. You usually need exactly 1 each game, and often not right away, so 2 copies is fine.

1 Breach – Corroder is not enough better than Breach in this deck to justify cutting a Parasite for the influence. The primary use of Breach is to make Wraparound 0 strength, but it’s also great for HQ Spiderweb or Curtain Wall, both of which Faust hates and both of which it breaks for cheaper than Corroder! I’ve actually been pretty impressed by this card and use it to break things more than I thought I would (although still not that often).

Breaker-ish things (4)

2 Special Order – These are essentially 0 influence Fausts 2-3. They can also search out your Breach if they have Wraparounds. I suppose you could also get a Faerie if you really needed to, but I’ve pretty much never done so.

2 Sneakdoor Beta – Typically this card is used to get a few points early and then is overwritten as the runner completes their rig. Not in this deck! Our final 5-MU rig is Sneakdoor, Faust, Datasucker, Breach/Faerie/Parasite. Having Sneakdoor out all game makes the Fisk Investment Seminar Hail Mary plan twice as efficient, since you can run whichever server is the cheapest. It’s pretty funny when people triple-ICE archives. This can also be game-breaking early game with Emergency Shutdown, and can serve as a de-facto Security testing if the Corp has an ICE-light draw or over-commits resources to defending HQ proper. The more they defend against Account Siphon, the less they defend against Sneakdoor Beta.

Recursion (5)

1 Levy AR Lab Access – This gives you the peace-of-mind to YOLO throw away all your cards without fear of running out. Having this in your deck makes the PE match-up trivial to win, whereas otherwise it could be a bit tricky. Unlike in Prepaid Kate, you want to wait as long as possible before playing this. After the early game pretty much all of your cards are just Faust-Food, so quantity matters more than quality. Against NBN I pretty much never play this, against HB glacier it gets played about 60% of the time, and against Jinteki it gets played about 80% of the time (stupid The Future Perfect in HQ drags out the games). I don’t really have enough data against Weyland (sigh…such is the state of things).

3 Same Old Thing – Having 3 of these gives you Levy security and tons of options for what to recur. Remember that you cannot play Fist Investment Seminar with this. This essentially expands your hand-size for 0 credits, which is really nice. I probably recur Inside Job the most, since it is at its best at the very early and very late stages of the game, whereas Account Siphon falls off in the late game.

1 Clone Chip – This is our Swordsman/Marcus Batty insurance. I could just play a 2nd Faust, but I really liked the idea of a Faerie, Parasite, back-up Faust split-card. Mid-run Parasite-Datasucker kills don’t happen that much, but when they do it’s incredible.

Multiaccess – (6)

2 HQ Interface – This deck often makes a bunch of money and needs none of it to break ICE. Any extra money you have goes straight into interfaces to make you more efficient. This is better than Legwork in this deck because of the synergy with Sneakdoor Beta and the sheer number of times that you hit HQ.

1 R&D Interface – Many players will turtle up HQ and Archives with 3+ ICE and leave just a single piece on R&D. We need a card to punish this extreme case. This gets discarded a lot, but when it gets played it wins the game and is absolutely un-cuttable for me.

3 Fist Investment Seminar – OK, so this is not really multi-access, but it essentially makes your HQ interfaces do double-duty. This card is REALLY REALLY HARD TO USE. It took over a month to learn how to use it properly, and I’m a pretty quick learner. If you play this too early or in a bad window you can undo all of your hard work and essentially throw the game. The times to play this are

  1. Right before you land a certain Account Siphon, which will break the Corp and leave them on 7-8 cards in hand.
  2. Late in the game when you don’t care at all about tempo anymore and only about points, and you can hit HQ that same turn as well as the next for at least 2 cards each time.
  3. When the Corp Install-Advanced an agenda last turn and you smell blood (the blood-smelling is the part that takes practice)
  4. You REALLY need Faust food and it’s an EMERGENCY.
  5. You are trying to deck the Corp and are planning to play one of these every turn for the rest of the game.

By using levy to play this 6 times I have actually won a TON of games by depleting R&D. Sometimes the Corp FINALLY locks you out with something gross like 4 ICE on every central, but doesn’t have enough clicks to finish the game before you draw them out of cards. Usually the cause of this game-state is the Corp sitting on a protected Jackson that is hiding 6-8 points in Archives for most of the game. People who have tried this deck and cut this card are just lazy and need to play about 50 more games with it. (Note: This card is MUCH better against Glacier and is really bad against a scored Astroscript Pilot Program. In certain Meta-games it may be cut-able, but I found that doing so really cripples the glacier match-up).

Your nasty habit (3)

3 Drug Dealer – Without this card, this strategy would not be possible. You get money for accessing, you get cards from your money, and you use those cards to get more accesses. It’s a beautiful circle of life. Before you play Faust you can support 1 of these, and once you have Faust out 2 of them is ideal. I have had 3 before and it’s REALLY fun, but you have to be really committed to the 0-credits-for-the-rest-of-the-game plan to do that. This card is just incredible. In-faction Click-less draw with almost no setup cost is exactly what Criminal needed, and Faust makes the downside much less relevant.

Notable Excludes

Plascrete Carapace – I never play silver bullets until they are proven necessary. Until now I haven’t had much trouble out-moneying Scorch decks, but 24/7 News Cycle really changes things. If 24/7 Scorch is a common opponent for you and you want to play some of these you can cut some number of Same Old Thing, Emergency Shutdown, or Fisk Investment Seminar for them.

Security Testing – This takes a lot of Clicks to use, has anti-synergy with Sneakdoor (they already want to ICE archives), sucks without Desperado, and is way worse than Bank Job when you have to go Tag-Me. This deck doesn’t really need consistent money besides Gabe’s ability and Desperado, so tons of burst to set up quickly is better. This card is way worse in Gabe than in Andy, since getting it and Desperado online quickly is way harder.

Actual Breakers – Some people have suggested a Mimic and a Passport for this deck, but I haven’t found that I need them. Feel free to try them out, but they feel like they solve a problem that the deck doesn’t really have. The 1 install cost on Passport is intriguing, but when I’ve tested it I never installed it, and it quickly got cut.

Final Thoughts

This deck is amazing. It has been consistently performing for me both locally and on OCTGN, and I am getting better at piloting it and understanding its win-conditions in each match-up every time I play it. It is also SUPER FUN and dynamic. If you want to just pick up your deck and throw your cards at the Corp until they lose, this is your deck.

Faust_Gabe

Give Faust Gabe a try and let me know how it does for you. If you want to discuss the deck with me, you can do so here or in the Stimhack forums or Slack chat channel. Here are some questions to consider if you are looking to make changes:

  1. Does the deck want some more 1-of real breakers. Is it worth influence for Mimic?
  2. How many of the flex Criminal tricks should there be (Inside Job, Shutdown, Same Old Thing)?
  3. How often is it correct to float tags? Can the deck stay at 0-1 Plascretes safely? What should be cut for them if they are required?
  4. Is Parasite appropriate, or a crutch?
  5. Does the deck need more R&D pressure besides the 1 R&D Interface?

See you on OCTGN

-TheBigBoy

2 Tips for Improving your Corp Play

This article took quite a while to write. I was really set on making it as similar in structure to my runner tips article from last month as possible, but it turns out that Corp play is far more structured and less free-flowing than Runner play. Corp players make fewer decisions than runners, but each decision is more impactful. Because of this, I only have 2 tips for improving your Corp play, but each is far more detailed and complex than the 4 runner tips from last month. Enjoy!

Tip 1: Trust your gear-checks

You’re playing an NEH fast advance deck against Kate and this is your starting hand after mandatory draw:

NEH_Hand

Many players’ turn 1 would be:

  • Install SanSan, drawing for NEH (let’s assume it’s irrelevant, perhaps another SanSan or an NAPD Contract)
  • Pop-up HQ (some would put it on the SanSan)
  • Architect R&D

Here’s my first turn:

Turn_1

…with a credit.

Unless you luckily top-deck a Sweeps Week or Hedge Fund, the first opening is going nowhere fast. Even if you do, you’ll have to rip an Astroscript Pilot Program shortly after. By then you may not even have a SanSan anymore!

My opening sets up for this turn 2:

Turn_2

This Astro is a lock the vast majority of the time. Additionally you have created a very useful server that the runner must find an answer to. This early tax of install costs will amount to far more than the 5 credits it would take to kill your SanSan. This remote server will also keep the runner’s attention away from your R&D. They will often avoid running it while you have 4 credits, lest you rez an Architect in their face and install something into your remote with it. They will not be able to search out their Mimic because their SMCs will be taxed by getting the programs out to deal with your remote. They may not even bother to hit R&D until you are on close to 0, perfect for your Pop-Up!

An astute observer should have noticed that after this turn 2, we only have 5 credits, not enough to rez both pieces of ice and score our agenda. This is OK for several reasons, in order of likelihood:

  1. The runner will often not be able to break the Wraparound, leaving us with 3 credits.
  2. If the runner does get out a Fracter and force you to rez the Quandary, there is still a very reasonable chance that they cannot get back in next turn anyway.
  3. The runner may hit the Pop-up on either turn 1 or 2, giving us the credit we need.
  4. If the runner cannot get 2 breakers + some money right now, they may not bother to fetch their breaker knowing that they will just be stopped by the next piece of ice.
  5. The runner may ignore the remote completely if they know they only have access to at most 1 breaker.
  6. You could top-deck Shipment from SanSan (like a boss). I run 3 because I want the freedom to make aggressive plays like this more often.

All of these reasons combined make this slight credit “miscalc” totally alright. This play gets less safe VERY rapidly every turn that you wait.

Many players see this play as unnecessarily risky. The truth is this:

Playing aggressively is not as risky as allowing the runner to reach late-game un-pressured!

In fact, the only play I see as a reasonable alternative to mine is this turn 1:

Aggro

Now that’s Netrunner!

A lot of players insist that they play aggressively, but I watch their games and can see them not trusting their ICE. Why are the gear-checks in your deck if you don’t believe they can keep the runner out for 1 turn? That’s their job! Ask your local Kate player if they always have SMC turns 1-2 when they need it (let alone access to 2 plus the money to use them). They will laugh you out of the room.

Just because you’re a fast-advance deck, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to score agendas out of a remote. Just because you’re a glacier deck, it doesn’t mean you can’t try to score your critical agendas early. Waiting for your scores to be 100% secure is a good way to have them be 0% secure. Put your Agendas down and trust in your ICE. Pick up the pace and you will strike fear into your opponents.

If you want to learn to play this way, jam a Fast Track or 2 into the next deck you build, regardless of style, and use it aggressively. Every turn that it’s in your hand, process the board state and judge if it is at all safe to go for a score. If you are unsure, GO FOR IT! You will get your points far more often than you expect. Lose the game in the remote, not in your centrals!

Tip 2: 17 ICE is a crutch

One of the most difficult things for intermediate Corp players to learn is ICE placement. They do not plan for the long-term when they install their ICE, only thinking about its immediate impact and not its lasting effect.

For an extreme example, I recent played against a Near-Earth Hub deck as Andromeda. I had Desperado installed and so was likely to check most remotes. He installed a new remote and ICE’d it. I checked the remote and slammed into an Architect. Having no cards in Archives so far, he got his ½ value Architect (+1 click for the HQ install), and I accessed to find a PAD CAMPAIGN. He rezzed the PAD and let it sit behind that Architect for the entire game. A few Medium runs through his Eli + Pop-Up defended R&D with no Mimic out probably had him wishing his Architect was protecting something more important. I’m sure my opponent didn’t really think that a Pad Campaign is worth defending with a 4-cost piece of ICE, but he knew that if he put the Architect there that I would probably hit it without a Mimic out. He was so focused on getting his subroutines to fire that he did not think ahead to how he wanted his ICE to be arranged several turns down the line.

So what does all this have to do with having 17 ICE? Intermediate Corp players get trapped in a spiral of poor ICE-placement. They put their ICE in the wrong places at the wrong times, conclude after they lose that they never have the ICE they need, and add more ICE to their deck. With all that extra ICE, they feel compelled to install more of it. This costs a lot of money and slows down the game, allowing their opponents to reach late-game more often, where their poor ICE placement haunts them even more. Decks like this one make my head hurt:

http://netrunner.meteor.com/decks/zpCxag7Noe6faKuyh

All Ice No Tricks (49 cards)

Near-Earth Hub: Broadcast Center
Agenda (11)
3 AstroScript Pilot Program
2 Breaking News
3 NAPD Contract
3 Project Beale
Asset (7)
1 Daily Business Show
3 Jackson Howard
3 PAD Campaign
Upgrade (5)
2 Cyberdex Virus Suite
3 SanSan City Grid
Operation (9)
2 Biotic Labor ···· ····
1 Fast Track
3 Hedge Fund
3 Sweeps Week
Barrier (6)
3 Eli 1.0 · · ·
1 Wall of Static
2 Wraparound
Code Gate (8)
2 Enigma
3 Pop-up Window
3 Tollbooth
Sentry (3)
2 Architect ·· ··
1 Ichi 1.0 ··

If you play with this list locally or on OCTGN, you will probably win a lot. You will also LEARN very very little. You will coast to victory on the power of your core strategy, never realizing that many of the games you lose are due to your poor ICE-placement (and the rest are probably due to you not following Tip 1!). This is because this list has way more ICE than is actually needed for its strategy to function. Netrunner has a ton of extremely powerful Corp cards that often do not make the cut (or are 1-ofs instead of 2 or 3-ofs) because ICE takes up so many deck slots. Every piece of ICE you can cut because of your placement and timing skills is one more luxury card like Fast Track, Interns, Enhanced Login Protocol, or Cyberdex Virus Suite you can run. These utility cards can be totally game-changing, and make for a much more dynamic, decision-laden learning experience.

Strong ICE placement is difficult to break down in explicit terms. While writing this I played several games and took notes on my thoughts while placing my ICE. I’ve summarized my thoughts here:

  1. When you build your deck, think of the ideal place for each piece of ICE that’s in it (this can be match-up dependent if you are a more advanced and Meta-savvy player). When you play the game, don’t get caught up in perceived immediate runner threats. Stick to your plan. Be consistent in your placement. If you improvise too much you will learn little about what is correct. If you stick to your plan over the course of several games, you may find yourself losing to the same tactics repeatedly. This is a great way to learn the weaknesses of your deck’s plan and adjust it accordingly.
  2. When both are unrezzed, a Taxing or Punishing piece of ICE in front of a Binary piece is better than the other way around, since the runner will be forced to pay a price just to be gear-checked on the other side. For example: Architect->Wraparound is better than Wraparound -> Architect.

This is an important point since many people snap-install their opening hand Architect on R&D. When you do this, you give up optimal placement later in the game. If your opponent installs a Mimic and runs a few turns later, you will be glad to have them pay 2 credits to get stopped, rather than not having to face the Architect until they can get all the way though and the 2 credits matter much less.

Don’t be a slave to this tip, but whenever you install a Piece of taxing ice, ask yourself how likely you will be to have to reinforce it with a Binary later. If the likelihood is high, perhaps it is best to install the binary now (even if you do not plan to rez it!)

  1. If you have the patience, time, and safety to do so, destroyers like Rototurret, Archer, and (a central server) Ichi 1.0 are most effective as the BOTTOM piece of ICE on a server. The risk involved in placing this way is that you may not be able to rez these ICE for value for a very long time, and if you continue to hold out on rezzing even when rich, the runner will start to get suspicious. When you make this play, you are going for a blowout moment later in the game. Knowing when to go for this play and when to save your destroyer to cap off a server later takes a lot of practice. Try making the play as often as you can to learn when it is correct to do so. Very few people expect an Archer at the bottom of a remote server. They will assume that you would not install one until after they played at least one program. Punish their assumptions!

It is also an important point that playing this way is MORE FUN. Getting blowout moments feels great, and maintaining positive morale and having a good time are VERY IMPORTANT parts of learning. Wrecking someone with an Archer or Ichi is a great way to keep up your motivation to keep practicing.

  1. Practice playing decks that rely on ICE but have very little of it. One of my favorites is the Waldemar HB deck (that scores Mandatory Upgrades the long way in a double upgrade remote powered by massive Asset economy).

http://netrunner.meteor.com/decks/aT6gkjaLqCEcEvjFH

This deck plays for a very long game, but since it has to fit in a ton of horizontal game and upgrades, it has only 15 pieces of ice. It can get away with this because each piece of ICE is high strength and very impactful on its own. However, if you do not place it correctly your mistakes will glare at you for the rest of the game, as you do not have extra pieces of ICE to just toss around on a whim. I have probably learned more about playing Corp well from this deck than any other. Also, scoring Man-Ups is super fun, which, again, helps keep you positive and in a learning mindset.

If you only play decks with an abundance of ICE, you will rarely notice your ICE placement mistakes. Play some decks where every piece is precious, and you will learn quickly through your losses. Remember I am not saying that a 19 ICE deck cannot be strong. I am just saying that it is not very instructive to play.

So that’s what I have on improving as a Corp player. I hope you find these tips helpful, or at least entertaining. Have a great month of Netrunning! Drop me a comment if you have any questions, or hit me up on OCTGN (TheBigBoy) if you want to play some games!