Running the Nets for Fun and Profit – Corps, Runners, and Deckbuilding

Last time I introduced the basics of Android: Netrunner. If you have not since gone out and purchased the game (or at least gone out and tried it) I’m going to be pretty disappointed in you. If you did and didn’t like it, well, I don’t like you either. =( If you tried it and like it (or already liked it) then you are pretty awesome and we should totally be friends.

So. Deckbuilding in Android: Netrunner. It is actually pretty neatly handled (although a bit limited at the moment due to only the core set being available). Every card in the game (with the exception of Agendas and Identities) is worth a certain amount of Influence (represented by between 0-5 pips along the bottom of the card). Each of the game’s identities has a specific amount of Out of Faction Influence (Influence coming from a faction that is not their own) that they are allowed to use in their deck (the allowed OoF Influence for all current identities is 15).

So, putting that all together: if an NBN deck wanted to run three copies of Scorched Earth (a Weyland card worth 4 Influence), they would be using 12 of their 15 allowed Out of Faction Influence. This leaves them with 3 more Out of Faction Influence they can spend on other OoF cards. So, deckbuilding is a game of balance: OoF cards are very helpful to supplement your own strategies or offset your weaknesses, but cards that cost more Influence narrow your options. In the above example, Scorched Earth is an incredibly powerful option in NBN, but it prevents you from reinforcing the deck with OoF ICE that would help solidify your somewhat lackluster defenses.

And thus the eternal cycles of give and take goes round and round.

Like I said. It is a neat system and just different enough to look like it’ll be quite engaging as the card pool grows.

The two big things to keep in mind are that Runner and Corporation cards can never be mixed, and that Agendas (which, if you’ll look, do not have an Influence cost as opposed to having an Influence cost of 0 like neutral cards) can only be given to their respective faction.

Deck size during construction also presents an interesting little quirk. Unlike a lot of other games, the minimum size of your deck is not actually fixed by the rules, instead being tied to the Identity you have chosen. While every Identity in the Core Set has a 45 card minimum, we have actually already had a 40 card minimum Identity previewed. Pretty sneaky!

Corporations have a further limitation regarding deck size and deck construction: depending on the size of their deck, they must have a specific number of Agenda points (that is to say, the sum of the points given by all the agendas) in their deck. For 40-44 cards, they must have 18-19 Agenda points, 45-49 is 20-21, 50-54 is 22-23, etc, etc.

All told, there is quite a bit to deck construction especially given that, in a normal Netrunner match, you play as both the Runner and Corporation, meaning you’ll need two decks built (one of each!). It treads a very fine line, with the limitations it provides (Influence mostly at the moment, but, as the game expands, the deck size and Agenda limitations will count too) providing interesting limitations and some give and take style development.

So, with that in mind, how about I round out the article by talking a little about the factions? Please keep in mind, these are just overviews of the various factions. There are weaknesses and strengths that may not be covered here.

CORPORATIONS

Jinteki: A corporation dedicated to the humane cause of creating clones (and possibly exploiting people to foster the development of psychic abilities). What isn’t too love?

This faction is all about messing with the Runner’s head. Literally. In addition to the psychic powers of Precognition and Nisei MK 2 protecting them from the runner, they are capable of dealing out quite a bit of Net damage from various sources, including the devastating Snare (which can trap them from both hand and deck, dealing Net damage and tagging them) and the deadly project Jungebug (which deals 2 Net damage for every Advancement counter on it).

Weyland Consortium: A corporation’s corporation, Weyland is quite productive, having its hand in construction, government contracts, war profiteering, monopolies, exploitation, the mysterious deaths of people who interfere with them…

Weyland is all about big business and devastation. Weyland takes advantage of the economical prowess to advance their ICE and increase its power, making servers that are hell for a Runner to bypass. In addition, they know when to sacrifice, dumping scored Agendas to rez the devastating Archer ICE (capable of scoring credits for the Corp, trashing two programs, and ending the run), something that is sure to ruin the day of even the most experienced Runner.

These sacrifices are made easier, of course, by cheap Agenda and the fact that if things don’t seem to be working out for Weyland, they always have the option of laying waste to the Runner with Scorched Earth (4 Meat damage to a tagged Runner).

NBN: NBN is dedicated to bringing you the latest breaking news from around the world and high quality entertainment (as well as keeping track of all of your personal information to better target the right consumers… and to sell that information off to other corporations for a tidy profit).

NBN loves Tags. From the clever Data Raven (an ICE that forces the Runner to take a tag or end the run) to SEA Source (an Operation that allows NBN to try and tag a Runner that made a successful run on their turn) to Breaking News (and Agenda that, you guessed it, allows them to give the Runner 2 Tags for the turn when scored!), NBN is all about the tags.

And they use that personal information well! Psychographics allows them to Advance a card a number of times equal to the tags on a Runner, and Closed Accounts to drain all the credits from a tagged Runner. NBN is also quick to adapt, possessing cheap Agendas and the ability to advance and complete Agendas thanks to cards like SanSan City Grid (reduces the Advancement requirements of Agendas).

And this is not quite so useful for a general overview, but they have Tollbooth, one of the best pieces of ICE in the game.

Haas-Bioroid: Do you love androids? Because Haas-Bioroid does. Specializing in advanced AIs and the creation of Bioroids (far better than Jinteki’s icky and morally questionable clones) to make the world a better place for people who aren’t having their jobs taken by Bioroids.

Haas is all about efficiency, capable of getting a lot done with fewer clicks and less money (epitomized with the Biotic Labor Operation, which gives you two clicks), Adonis Campaign (a fairly cheap Asset that provides 3 Credits at the start of your turn for a couple of turns), and Accelerated Beta Test (an Agenda, that, when scored, allows you to install several cards from the top of your deck… unfortunately trashing anything that you can’t install).

Haas also possesses fairly unique ICE in the form of their Bioroids. These AIs are very cost efficient (capable of doing way more then similarly priced ICE), but have a pretty notable drawback: given they are AIs, it is possible to reason your way past them. In other words, it is possible to break the subroutines on these pieces of ICE by spending Clicks.

RUNNERS

Anarchs: Some people just like to mess with governments, corporations, and other folks just to ruin their day. Those people are the Anarchs.

The Anarchs are typified by their use of Virus cards to incredibly destructive ends. Viruses are quite dangerous to the corporation, allowing the Anarchs to weaken (and possibly destroy) opposing ICE (Parasite and Datasucker) and access additional cards from R&D (Medium). A lot of their support cards are also geared towards exploiting the power of their viruses, allowing them to recover lost Viruses (Deja Vu), making them work faster (Grimoire), and searching them out of their deck (Djinn).

Of course, Anarchs aren’t all about Viruses. They also love to party, which is always good times. The Wyldside club forces them to use their first Click every turn to draw 2 cards and the brain enhancing Stimhack gives them 9 extra credits for a run (warning: may cause Brain Damage, use all recreational, run enhancing drugs with care!).

Criminals: Criminals are… well. Criminals. They love to exploit and abuse corporations and people for quick cash and data.

Criminals are the sneakiest and most tricky of the runners, having lots of ways to mess with them. Forced Activation Order (forces the corp to Rez a piece of ICE or trash it) and Account Siphon (make a run on HQ and, if successful, you can take up to 5 Credits from the Corp and gain twice that yourself… if you don’t mind a couple tags) are incredibly unpleasant for Corporations to deal with. Sneakdoor Beta (a program that allows you to access the Corp HQ instead if you successfully access their Archives) and Inside Job (bypass the first piece of ICE you encounter in a run) make it incredibly difficult for the Corporation to protect themselves.

Shapers:  While Anarchs do what they do to mess with people and Criminals do it for the money,  Shapers do it because… because. They live to run. They love to customize their Breakers, create new programs, hack, tweak, tinker… they just love it all.

Shapers are all about the run and prepping for the run. Their Icebreakers are unique in that their Strength boosts last for the entire run (making them quite good against deep ICE walls). Cards like Modded (which reduces the cost of the next program/hardware they install) and Magnum Opus (gain 2 Credits for a Click) help them build powerful rigs quickly and efficiently.

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