Parasite is a stupid card.
When I played Noise to 2nd at MN Regionals, I had 3 Crypsis in my deck and no other breakers (unless you count the 2 D4v1d). I joked afterwards that I used him to break fewer than 10 subroutines in the entire tournament (6 rounds of swiss and 6 elimination games). When Faust came out I switched to 3 Faust…then 2 Faust…then 1 Faust 1 Mimic. The deck is still performing amazingly well, both on OCTGN and locally. I do use Faust more than I used Crypsis, but a lot of the time he just speeds up the inevitable, putting away games that I would probably win anyway. I am far from the only one having success with Noise right now. Depending who you ask he is either the best or 2nd best Runner deck right now (after Kate). I would argue that although Peddler and Faust added consistency to Noise, he was definitely Tier 1 before those cards were printed, he just took a bit more practice to play. This is because…
Parasite is the best runner card in the game, and Noise is the strongest deck that uses Parasite in an abusive way.
The best Noise players will tell you that they often win games without ever touching archives. It’s not the milling. It’s not the AI breaker. It’s not the Wyldside draw engine. It’s not the Pawnshop economy. All of these things are obviously strong, but Parasite is the real hero.
As an exercise, I set out to build the deck that abuses Parasite to the most disgusting extent that I could. I did this mostly as a joke and to prove a point, but the deck ended up surprisingly strong! Again, my goal was not to make the best parasite deck, but the most abusive parasite deck, maximizing the power of that single card as a thought experiment.
Let’s be clear. I’m not saying this deck is not without problems. It has a lot of problems, and I’ll discuss them after I explain the deck. This deck is very fun and very interesting to play, even if it is far from tier 1.
ParaNasir (45 cards)
Nasir Meidan: Cyber Explorer
3 Stimhack · · ·
3 Clone Chip
1 HQ Interface ··
2 Plascrete Carapace
3 R&D Interface
2 Armitage Codebusting
3 Earthrise Hotel
3 Ghost Runner
2 Kati Jones
3 Personal Workshop
1 Utopia Shard ·
1 Cerberus “Lady” H1
1 Cyber Cypher
3 Datasucker · · ·
3 Parasite ·· ·· ··
3 Self-modifying Code
General Game-Plan: Use the Nasir ID ability to put the Corp in a bind every time you run. Either they let you in and give you Datasucker counters and/or multi-accesses, or they rez ICE. If they rez you make money and then immediately slap a Parasite on it, repeating this process until the Corp floods out due to constantly having to shore up R&D, or until they cave, failing to defend R&D, bleeding endless Virus counters and accesses until you win. If the Corp manages to get a reasonable amount of ICE rezzed on R&D that you can’t kill, a Stimhack can fund an Atman that can efficiently slide you through. In the late game you have Atman + Lady efficiency and 3 R&D Interface, along with Kati econ to close out the game. Remotes are constantly threatened by Stimhack. Run into the remote with very little money, letting the Corp rez, making you cash, and then Stimhack in if necessary. Bravely face-check with no money all game. The more passively you play, the harder things get for you. When in doubt, get a sucker and run, run, run!
Cards that punish the Corp for letting you in
3 Datasucker – This card makes Parasite and Atman into hyper-efficient monsters. If you don’t have a sucker in your opener you should SMC for one the first time the Corp lets you in. Your late game rig will often have 2 of these out.
3 R&D Interface – This is your win-condition as well as early game credit-dump to enable your ID ability. Great synergy with Personal Workshop.
1 HQ Interface – If you draw this early it can provide some nice pressure, but otherwise this is used to clean out HQ if the Corp tries to turtle up and over-defends R&D. The synergy with Personal Workshop and our sheer volume of runs makes this stronger than Legwork in this deck. Some people have suggested Nerve Agent, but that card has memory issues and purging viruses is already strong against us.
1 Utopia Shard – More HQ pressure for 1 influence and a little bit of Scorch Protection as well. Nasir makes getting this into play for free very easy.
Cards that punish the Corp for Rezzing
3 Parasite – The earlier the Corp rezzes, the earlier you can get your Parasites ticking. The later they rez, the more likely it is that you can instantly burn their ice down with Datasucker counters and a Parasite off of a Personal Workshop, SMC, or Clone Chip. Always remember that you can Parasite up to 6 times with this deck, and you want to use them all every game. Be very aggressive with your first 5 uses, but then get stingy with your last one so that you’re not out of Parasites when you really need one!
3 Clone Chip – These are Parasite 4-6. Sometimes you have use these on SMC, but baby Hackson Joward (the savior of Runners) cries every time you do.
Nasir Meidan, Cyber Explorer – This ID makes you tons of money over the course of the game if you are built to abuse it. Remember that if the Corp rezzes a Pop-up Window or Pup you can instantly kill it with Parasite mid-run to not lose all your money! For those who have not played Nasir before, you have 2 windows to spend your money. You see the ice and then can spend your credits before you lose them all (on paid abilities but NOT to break subroutines). You then encounter the ice (hopefully with 0 credits) and gain credits equal to its cost. You can then spend that money to break the ice, or just bounce off having made a profit. Nasir makes it REALLY rough for the Corp to rez very expensive ice, which is precisely the ice that will not instantly fold to Parasite, which is why our plan fits this ID so well. Sometimes rezzing a Curtain Wall or Susanoo-no-Mikoto against Nasir is game-losing, which is great news for a Parasite deck.
2 Atman – This is your primary breaker. Some games you will have these at 2 and 4, sometimes at 3 only, sometimes at 3 and 4, and sometimes at very strange numbers. Figuring out the right Atman number(s) for each game is a very fun puzzle and very rewarding when you get it right! When I first built this deck I had a standard breaker suite, but the more I played it, the easier I found it to get Datasucker counters (people REALLY don’t like giving you money), making an Atman suite extremely efficient. For a while I had 3 Atmans in the deck, but I never needed 3 out at once, so I dropped it down. I’ve been amazed by how many ICE suites you can just slide right through with a Datasucker or two and an Atman at 3, after having blown up all the small ice with Parasite.
1 Cerberus “Lady” H1 – I originally had an Inti here as the Wraparound hate card, but Lady has been excellent. Often the Corp’s only strength 4 ice will be Eli, and this can save you an Atman. Lady + Stimhack also answers Oversight AI Curtain Walls. Lady is just a great breaker, and it gets even better when you don’t completely depend on it and instead just use it as an efficiency tool (in the same way that my Professor deck does).
1 Cyber-Cypher – I got sick of getting stopped by Turing, and this breaker is great for R&D tunnel vision. It also gives us a Lotus Field answer when we don’t have a Stimhack to pay for our Atman 4.
1 Sharpshooter – I hardly ever use this, but when I have it’s turned certain losses into certain wins. Some people try to punk you with Archer and friends, and it’s nice to have an out.
3 Self-Modifying Code – This searches for Datasucker and Parasite primarily. It CAN search for Atman with Stimhack money, but I’ve found that I usually draw those by the time I want them, and you can still Stimhack them out using Personal Workhop.
3 Earthrise Hotel – This is great card draw for Nasir. It helps you empty your credit pool and saves your clicks for running and loading Personal Workshop. You are too poor to use burst draw like Quality Time.
3 Diesel – You empty your hand a lot and are broke a lot, so 3 cards for a click and a card at 0 credits is a good deal. This is also a very linear deck where our best cards are VERY important, meaning the fact that Diesel is a cost-efficient but slot-inefficient card draw option makes it perfect for us.
2 Astrolabe – Your late-game rig often needs 5 MU and this card somewhat helps combat Asset spam, something that Nasir can struggle against.
3 Stimhack – This gives you 9 credits for 0 clicks. That’s a good deal if you weren’t aware. This is how you pay for your Atmans and your late-game Hail Mary triple RDI runs. Use these REALLY aggressively. Pop them off as soon as you feel the game slipping away. Also, you never want to discard a Stimhack to a Stimhack, which is even more reason to use them ASAP. Remember that you need to have a way to spend the 9 credits at paid ability speed if they have unrezzed ice, since the 9 credits are technically in your credit pool.
2 Armitage Codebusting – This is the best runner card for getting you from broke to not-broke is the least painful way. Your Atmans will often make R&D 3-4 credits in the midgame, which means clicking Armitage 2-3 times should get you in. These should keep you afloat until you get your Kati going for late game. A lot of corps will rez naked Adonis Campaigns and such when you are poor, and this helps you clear those out.
3 Ghost Runner – Even though we are not running stealth, this card is CLUTCH. If you were not aware, you keep these credits when you lose all your money to Nasir. You often enter servers with 0-2 credits and these can save you on NAPDs, The Future Perfect, and key trashes. They also prevent the Corp from locking you out by putting a cheap piece of ice in front of a server, and they are a real life-saver when you are just a couple credits short at the end of a really long run with a bunch of Nasir triggers. Be careful spending these! They are precious! It’s better to use them 3 times when you are 1 credit short of what you want to do than 1 time when you are 3 credits short.
2 Kati Jones – When R&D is all rezzed in the late game and you have Parasited as much as you can, Kati gives you the money to get those last few accesses to close out the game. It’s also ok to drop Kati and start loading her early if you have to deal with a lot of Assets.
3 Personal Workshop – Host your Interfaces, Parasites, breakers, and Clone Chips on here. This is your primary money-dump and lets you run with more than 0 credits in your pool without being wasteful. Be careful about putting Atmans on here too early! You don’t want them to automatically install when you’re not ready (unless you will want one at 0 anyway, in which case go ahead).
2 Plascrete Carapace – Nasir doesn’t build credits, and our economy is built on Stimhack, so tag-and-bag and Punitive traces are terrifying! However, no one is playing SEA source right now which presents an interesting possibility. We can replace these slots with Film Critic which protects us from both Punitive and Midseasons, and also helps against NAPD and Future Perfect, taking a lot of stress off of our Ghost Runners. When Film Critic comes out on OCTGN I expect to make this switch and the deck should become much stronger because of it.
(Edit: I wrote this article the day before going to league night with the deck. I saw a decent amount of Sea Source so the Plascrete vs. Film Critic question is still up in the air. Sadly, my current stance is that Plascrete is necessary, which is a bit of a bummer.)
This deck is very powerful, but every deck has issues. Here are some of ours:
Cyberdex Virus Suite – This shuts off archives and sometimes this can be blown mid-run to lock us out. Bummer. I haven’t lost a game to a big cyberdex play yet, but the card has been really annoying.
Dedicated Net Damage decks – Personal Evolution and The Brewery decks are hard match-ups. Use good anti-PE tactics (run all the Mushins) and hope for the best! You can put in a Deus Ex if you want, but I’ve found it’s not worth it. The card is just too dead the rest of the time and these decks are not common enough to warrant it. Don’t play your Stimhacks unless they’re winning you the game. Interestingly there is a brand of PE right now that uses uncorrodable tactics instead of much flat-line threat, and our match-up against them is actually pretty good!
SanSan City Grid – What a pain. 5 Trash is hard and you may have to blow a Stimhack to get rid of this if they get it online early. Late game hopefully your Parasites and RDIs lead to an R&D lock that lets you not care about this card as much. The Astrobiotics match-up is a bummer in a lot of ways.
Tagging Ice – Data Raven and Gutenberg are really annoying. Oh well, they suck for everyone. Admittedly, these will get even more obnoxious if I cut the Plascretes for Film Critic.
Ice rezzed without a run – Whenever the Corp uses Oversight AI, Accelerated Beta Test, or Executive Boot Camp to rez something, we miss out on a bunch of money. This doesn’t completely hose us, but it is a big speed-bump. The Blue sun match-up is kind of interesting. If they don’t draw an Oversight relatively early our ID completely stomps them, but if they do, we can get locked out of suckers and fall behind really fast.
What I learned about the game from playing this deck
Parasite is a fun-killer. It is important for the game as a solution to otherwise very problematic ice (NEXT Silver, Komainu, Tsurugi, Pup), but it comes with a lot of collateral damage. When I played against Tier 1 decks with ParaNasir, I had iffy results. RP was ok if I could get early momentum, and was probably the best of them for me to deal with, but all varieties of NEH, and the Asset-Heavy versions of HB ETF were awful. However, this deck had disgusting win-rates against anything but the best decks, even when played by strong players (strong being defined by my metric of: “I recognize this player’s name from the Stimhack forum or from videos, and he/she seems pretty smart”). Greenhouse Rush? Stomped. NEXT ICE HB? Stomped. Blue sun vegan? Stomped (mulligan for Datasucker). Parasite is the fun-police.
One thing we all love about Netrunner is that we can go through our binders to build a fresh and interesting deck and, as long as we have a clear path to victory (see the last article), the deck will have a pretty good shot against decks that our friends build in a similar way. ParaNasir, Tag-me Siphon Anarch, and other super linear Parasite-abusers destroy casual play. It’s the for-fun archetype that stomps other for-fun decks with disgusting consistency while not really having a chance against most competitive decks if they have any idea what you are up to.
My wife was curious one day about how to play my Noise deck (http://netrunner.meteor.com/decks/6cdScADY9ipc8hZMb), so we played some games with me playing a pretty standard HB FA deck. I got up 6-0 and then in the course of 2 turns she killed all of my R&D ICE and double-medium dug for 7 points all at once. I was laughing and asked, “Isn’t that cool!?!?” She said, a bit sadly, “That felt dirty, and not in a good way.” I asked why and she said “I didn’t play an ice-breaker for the whole game. That’s stupid.”
I love Netrunner, and I LOVE Parasite, but as someone who has caned it over and over for his entire Netrunner lifespan, I can honestly say I think it would be good for the game if both Parasite and Clone Chip had been printed at 3 Influence. The combination is just too efficient, to easy, and too game-warping. You should have to give up a lot to put it in your deck, and right now you don’t.
I’m heading back to work as a high-school teacher this week, so I will be updating a bit less frequently. I’m going to shoot for once a month. Thanks for reading! I’ve had some people tell me they’ve really enjoyed playing some of the decks I’ve posted here and that means a lot, as I put a lot of time into building and grinding games with them. If you ever have questions for me about them or any of the ideas I’ve posted, just drop a comment. See you on OCTGN (TheBigBoy).