An important part of being a Runner is the ability to gauge how safe you are at a given moment during a run. So, today, I figured I’d run you all a bit through the dangers of Net Damage during a run and give a bit of advice on how to survive. Or at least give you something that will help you realize where you went wrong when you act like an overly aggressive idiot like myself and run headlong into fatal Snares.
Right now, there are 9 possible sources of Net Damage in the game, covering pretty much every card type:
Jinteki: Personal Evolution
So, at pretty much every point in the game? You are facing potential Net Damage. Accessing blind from Weyland’s R&D? Snare snaps around your avatar and fries more brain cells then a frat party. Trying to push past a piece of unrezzed ICE from NBN? A samurai wielding a Neural Katana suddenly shaves a bit off the top. Accessing that dangerously advanced card that HB has on the table (it has to be a Mandatory Upgrades they are about to finish!)? Turns out you just stumbled onto Project Junebug and you’re just another data point. Do… anything against Jinteki? Yeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeah.
Of course, protecting yourself from Net Damage is quite easy! All you have to do is keep your hand full! No problem, right?
Except for the fact that there are a lot of situations where drawing back to full is going to be impossible (mid-run) or impractical (every single turn with an aggressive deck). So, when those times come, you need to be able to estimate how safe you are from Net Damage.
Running against ICE
Calculating the danger of running unrezzed ICE is complicated and largely dependent on the depth of the ICE, the number of credits available to the Corp, and, if they aren’t Jinteki, the amount of influence they have remaining. As such, it is important to know the cost of each of these pieces of ICE, what breakers they require, how expensive they are to break, how much Net Damage they do, and their influence cost.
So, let me give you a cheat sheet here -
Chum (1 Cost, 4 Strength, Code Gate, causes the next ICE to possibly deal 3 Net Damage if not broken, 1 Influence)Data Mine (0 Cost, 2 Strength, Untyped, Deals 1 Net Damage, 2 Influence)
Neural Katana (4 Cost, 3 Strength, Sentry, Deals 3 Net Damage, 2 Influence)
Wall of Thorns (8 Cost, 5 Strength, Barrier, Deals 2 Net Damage, 1 Influence)
What you can take from this is that, provided the runner has at least 4 credits, you should always approach unrezzed ICE with at least 3 cards in hand or risk death to a Neural Katana. Every unrezzed ICE, unless you are absolutely sure it can’t be Neural Katana (you’ve seen all of their Katanas already or you’ve seen 15 Influence in a non-Jinteki deck), should be treated as a Neutal Katana.
Unrezzed ICE behind Chum is even scarier, adding +3 to the number of cards you need to survive it. This means that you need at least 4 cards in hand to survive the potential for Chum + Data Mine no matter how many credits they have and at least 6 cards if they have 4 credits (for the terrifying Chum + Neural Katana combo). The Wall of Thorns threat is much smaller, since it requires 8 credits, but you should remain wary of it.
So, I suppose what you should take from this is that Neural Katana is scary and, conveniently (for Corporation), the one that is easiest to rez.
Running on Installed Cards
Okay. So. There are a few different threats here.
Snare (4 Cost, Cannot Advanced, 3 Net Damage, 2 Influence)
Fetal AI (Can be Advanced, 2 Net Damage, Jinteki Only)
Project Junebug (1 Cost, Can be Advanced, 2 Net Damage per Advancement, 1 Influence)
So, the basic premise here is simple. When running unadvanced cards, and the Corporation has 4 credits available, 3 cards in hand is sufficient to protect you. NBN, Weyland, and HB are perfectly safe to hit installed cards if they have less then 4 credits. If the Corporation you are playing against is Jinteki, on the other hand, then you should never run anything with less than 2 cards (3 if they are playing as Personal Evolution) due to the omnipresent threat of Fetal AI.
An advanced card, on the other hand, is a different can of worms. Outside of Jinteki, as long as the Corporation has at least 1 credit, the math is simple: 2 cards per advancement counter to tank Junebugs. If you are playing against Jinteki (Personal Evolution specifically), then 1 Advancement counter requires at least 3 cards to deal with the danger of it being an advanced Fetal AI. Otherwise, the math works.
Oh, and obviously if you see all their Snares/Junebugs/Fetal AIs/Influence, then you can disregard this.
Remember that, even if you’ve still seen all of the Fetal AIs, Personal Evolution is still a threat. Never steal an agenda without at least 1 card in hand, unless that agenda would win you the game. This is important to remember! If you’d win with the agenda you steal from Personal Evolution, then you win before the damage is inflicted. Keep in mind this doesn’t work the same way with Fetal AI, whose 2 Net Damage is inflicted BEFORE you can steal the card.
Seriously. Jinteki never lets you do anything without taking Net Damage.
Running on HQ/R&D
Pretty much the same rules as above apply. What you have to be very careful with here (particularly against Personal Evolution) is grabbing multiple cards. You need to be able to cumulatively match the above requirements for each card accessed. The threat of 2 Fetal AIs or 1 Fetal AI and 1 Snare does exist and is not pleasant.
The Corp’s Turn
Two methods of inflicting net damage on the Corp’s turn exist at the moment:
Neural EMP (2 Cost, 1 Net Damage if you ran last turn, 2 Influence)Jinteki: Personal Evolution (No Cost, 1 Damage if an Agenda is scored, Jinteki only)
Yeah. Let this be a reminder. Don’t end your turn with 0 cards. Personal Evolution, in most circumstances, is only going to tag you once. Neural EMP on the other hand… bleh.
Uhhhhh… Yeah. This is a card. I think I haven’t seen it since the first game I played
Ignoring Everything I Said Above
With all that out of the way, keep in mind that it is perfectly fine to ignore everything I said above.
I certainly do it all the time.
This blog entry was all about playing it safe versus Net Damage. Playing it safe is not always the best way to win as Runner. There is also the matter of playing against the metagame. For example, I have relatively little fear of ending my turn low on cards because I haven’t seen a Neural EMP since I played with the starter decks. Outside of Jinteki, I have rarely seen a Neural Katana.
There are times where this has gotten me flatlined, but there are plenty of times where my reckless disregard for possible bluffs has paid off.
And that’s the choice you have to make.
So, arm yourself with the knowledge of when you’re at risk against Net Damage. It is important to be able to know. What you do with that knowledge, however, is your choice.
No. Net Shield wasn’t worth discussion.