News for March 2014
A New Golden Age
An Android: Netrunner Strategy Article by 2013 World Champion Jens Erickson
Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 11 March 2014

Welcome to the future!

The miraculous rate of recent human achievement is leading us rapidly toward a new Golden Age. While we were, at one point, skirting a path that would take us perilously close to the exhaustion of Earth’s natural resources, we have since found new sources of energy, having reached out to the moon and Mars – and beyond.

Human beings have more time than ever to pursue intellectual and cultural endeavors, owing to a growing labor pool of bioroids and clones. And our culture is available to us twenty-four, seven, three-sixty-five since everything is accessible via the net. In fact, the net isn’t just a host service for millennia of human culture; it may, itself, very well be humanity’s greatest cultural achievement.

Capable of transmitting more bytes of data every second than were generated through the first five-thousand years of written language, the net hosts our dreams, our aspirations, and our business plans. So in light of the terrorist threat posed to humanity’s interests by those would-be hackers known as runners, we recognize the importance of securing private information in order to further human progress…

2013 World Champion Jens Erickson on Building a Corp Deck

Whether you are building your first deck or making revisions to an old favorite, the process of deck-building can be daunting, and in Android: Netrunner, the process is further complicated by the fact that you need to build decks for both Corp and Runner, each of which faces a different set of challenges.

In order to offer some insight into the Corporate side of deck-building, I thought I could demonstrate the process I use, walking through some of the key points as we build a Haas-Bioroid deck from the ground up, using the identity NEXT Design (Creation and Control, 3).

Define Your Vision Statement

“What does your deck do?”

This is the first question you want to ask yourself when you start building a deck, and every decision you make should be made with this question in mind.

The answer to this question is going to become your Corp’s vision statement, and it will establish your deck’s most likely path to victory, giving you a baseline to reference later on. For example, “Flatline the runner using Scorched Earth (Core Set, 99).” Keeping this focal point in mind while building your deck helps to keep your build centered. It’s also your best guide as you decide what you want to include for agendas, ice, economy cards, and other cards. A Scorched Earth deck will want to be able to hold enough credits to play key operations like SEA Source (Core Set, 86) and Scorched Earth when the best opportunity arises, and it will want to include other methods of tagging and catching the runner off guard, such as Snare! (Core Set, 70), Posted Bounty (Core Set, 95), or Ghost Branch (Core Set, 87).  

The vision statement for our NEXT Design deck is roughly, “Use piles of ICE to defend Director Haas and agendas from hand.” Immediately, this tells us that the deck will have a lot of ice, like twenty or more pieces; include cards to protect Director Haas, such as Ash 2X3ZB9CY (What Lies Ahead, 13); and play a large number of agendas that require only three advancement to score. There are also some subtler implications here as well. Including more ice means reducing investment on other areas such as economic pieces, meaning our ice will have to play double duty, and playing three copies of Director Haas means we need ways to prevent the extra copies from becoming points for the Runner. 

Agendas

With a deck of forty-five to forty-nine cards, you need to include twenty or twenty-one agenda points, which averages to somewhere between nine and eleven agendas in a typical deck. As these are mandatory inclusions in every Corp deck, they are the first cards that you want to tie into your vision statement. The biggest decision, here, is if you plan to include agendas worth three points; they change the math on both sides of the net, allowing victory in just three scores or steals. The criteria I use is to gauge how reliably a deck can defend its remote server, and how powerfully the scored agenda accelerates the larger plan. For example, an NBN fast-advance deck featuring SanSan City Grid (Core Set, 92) would not see much benefit from playing Restructured Datapool (What Lies Ahead, 16). The agenda is difficult to score and offers little assistance toward the deck’s vision with its ability. However, the agenda would be of much greater use to a deck based around more traps and tags, perhaps featuring our old friend Scorched Earth.

Considering this, our NEXT Design deck wants as many three-advance, two-point agendas as it can play, meaning we’re tripling down on both Project Vitruvius (Cyber Exodus, 51) and Accelerated Beta Test (Core Set, 55), both of which offer very strong effects toward our vision statement.

Gila Hands Arcology (Creation and Control, 23) is the next major inclusion, as Director Haas makes its ability much stronger and more versatile, allowing us to pull six credits on a full turn, or gain three with two clicks still in hand. Since we need to include five more agenda points, two copies of Efficiency Committee (Creation and Control, 5) are included to allow for alpha turns of six or more clicks, and the final point is assigned to Director Haas’ Pet Project (Creation and Control, 4), as how could we not include Haas’ own project in this deck? 

Ice

Ice are the bread and butter of Corp decks, and they take up more card slots than any other card type in most (but not all) decks. However, as you select your ice, you still need to give careful consideration to your intended path to victory. If you need strong defenses for remote servers intended to host agendas and score points, you’ll want ice such as Wall of Static (Core Set, 113) or Tollbooth (Core Set, 90). However, if you're designing a Jinteki deck that wants to allow the Runner into your servers, but at a cost, ice like Neural Katana (Core Set, 77) or Viktor 2.0 (Creation and Control, 19) are more your style. The most important thing is to have a spread of ice with a variety of types and strength. It's very easy to play three copies of five to six different pieces of ice and call it good, but this leaves you in a crumbling position as the game continues. The single most important attribute of your array of ice is their surprise factor. Variety allows you to keep the Runner scared throughout the entirety of the match. Ice selection is much like cooking: You have your base ingredients, and you have an assortment of spices to keep things interesting. 

In our NEXT Design deck, we have a lot of room for surprises and keeping our opponent on his toes as the game progresses. Eli 1.0 (Future Proof, 110) and Paper Wall (Mala Tempora, 59) are the only ice with three copies in the deck.

Eli 1.0 is not an ice that you use on remote servers, because if the Runner needs to pass through it, he can. But Eli 1.0 is excellent at deterring runs on HQ and R&D. Paper Wall is a new addition that allows us to make very cheap, early use of the ice we install with the NEXT Design identity ability, and it also interacts well with Director Haas’ Pet Project. A combination of Rototurret (Core Set, 64), Grim (Opening Moves, 20), and Ichi 1.0 (Core Set, 62) comprise our suite of ICE with teeth. I mentioned earlier that due to the increased ice count, we'd need some ice to pull double-duty and generate credits. These, we'll pull from our available influence, adding two copies of Caduceus (What Lies Ahead, 19) and two Pop-up Window (Cyber Exodus, 56). Another use of influence that this deck will test is pulling in RSVP (True Colors, 77), with which we can allow the Runner a safe guided tour of Director Haas' office as he remains unable to trash it. Wall of Static and Enigma (Core Set, 111) make appearances as cheap ways to stop the Runner early, while Heimdall 1.0 (Core Set, 61) will provide a bit of heavy lifting. 

Economy

It can be difficult for the Corp to manage its income, as most it costs you to both place and rez your ice, and your vision may require you to hold onto a large supply of liquid funds if, for example, you plan to pay for Snare! (Core Set, 70) or use Biotic Labor (Core Set, 59) to score the next agenda you draw.

The Corp has two main types of economic cards: one-shot operations like Hedge Fund (Core Set, 110) and multi-use assets like Adonis Campaign (Core Set, 56). The biggest trick is figuring out which is correct for your plan. As a guideline, if you're drawing a lot of cards in order to advance your plan, operations are the way to go. Conversely, if you're able to deter runs on remote servers and plan on a longer game, assets have the advantage. This is not to say that these are mutually exclusive! The truth is that it rarely hurts if your deck is able to produce more money than you can spend. Take the deck you have, and try adding additional credit generation wherever you can; nobody has lost a game as Corp due to being too rich. Being caught without the funds to rez key ice and upgrades has lead to many Corporate defeats.

Due to the amount of ice that our NEXT Design deck plays, and because we won’t be drawing through a heap of cards, we'll be playing the multi-use assets, Adonis Campaign and Melange Mining Corp (Core Set, 108) to take advantage of our defenses and extra clicks. The deck also includes Hedge Fund due to the huge boost it provides if drawn in an opening hand; its funds can allow you to rez all your defenses, rather than force you to pick your fights. These aren't the only ways of generating credits, however, as we noted before while selecting our agendas and ice. Gila Hands Arcology plays well with Director Haas; Caduceus and Pop-up Window play well with NEXT Design's identity ability. Still, I'd like to squeeze a bit more credit generation into this list; as it is, the deck’s thin economy is a character flaw.

The final card I'll note in this section is Jackson Howard (Opening Moves, 15), Corporate All-Star. Jackson Howard is easily one of the most powerful and unique tools in the Corporate arsenal; he can fix agenda-flooded hands, recur key cards for multiple uses, accelerate into economic operations, and dig for specific cards out of R&D. While not necessarily an auto-include, Jackson Howard is as close as they come, as his addition fits neatly into nearly every vision statement if you have the influence. This NEXT Design deck features two copies. 

Testing

Theorycrafting is great. It pays to be able to mentally analyze what you want your deck to do against what you expect your opponent may be planning, but at the end of the day, it's only half of the battle. Is Tollbooth too expensive for your trace-heavy NBN deck? Can you defend and make use of Melange Mining Corp? How often can you actually score The Cleaners (Second Thoughts, 36)? The best way to learn what parts of your deck actually tick is to play the game! Test and test again, and remember that nothing about a deck needs to be written in stone.

This NEXT Design list has been through countless iterations, from the original idea put forward by fellow players “Deviant” and “Hito,” to a version that earned a Top 8 finish in an event during the Plugged-in Tour, and then to its current state, which makes use of some of the game’s more recent releases. Android: Netrunner is a constantly changing game, and the Corps that change with the times and leverage their new advantages are the ones that stay on top. 

NEXT Design: Guarding the Net

Agendas (12):
3x Accelerated Beta Test
1x Director Haas’ Pet Project
2x Efficiency Committee
3x Project Vitruvius
3x Gila Hands Arcology

Assets (10):
3x Adonis Campaign
3x Director Haas
2x Melange Mining Corp
2x Jackson Howard *

Barrier (9):
3x Eli 1.0
1x Heimdall 1.0
3x Paper Wall
2x Wall of Static

Code Gate (8):
2x Enigma
2x Pop-up Window *
2x RSVP **
1x Viktor 2.0
1x Viper

Sentry (6):
2x Caduceus **
1x Grim
1x Ichi 1.0
2x Rototurret

Operations (3):
3x Hedge Fund

Upgrades (1):
1x Ash 2X3ZB9CY

Total Cards: 49

Remember:

  • Define your vision statement, and keep it in mind as you choose your cards.
  • Diversify your ice; then diversify it some more. Don't allow a single breaker to ruin a third of your defenses.
  • Add more economy to your deck than you think you need. No Corp has ever lost because it had too many credits.
  • Playtest, playtest, playtest. Theory can go a long way, but only practice will tell you what still needs tuning.

Thanks, Jens!

Many new players find the Corp side of Android: Netrunner harder to master than the Runner side, so we hope the advice that 2013 World Champion Jens Erickson offers will prove fruitful to you throughout your endeavors.

In the meantime, keep watching for more strategy articles and other Android: Netrunner news items!

Based on the classic card game designed by Richard Garfield, Android: Netrunner The Card Game is a game for two players set in the dystopian future of Android. It pits monolothic megacorps against subversive netrunners in a high-stakes struggle for the control of valuable data.

Netrunner is a TM of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Android is TM & ©2014 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Netrunner is licensed by Wizards of the Coast LLC. ©2014 Wizards.
    
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