Revisiting Netrunner

In her Run Better tip on the Fetal AI website, Ohio-based competitive Android: Netrunner player Ellen Biscotti writes:

Play your tournament decks consistently. … I usually play terribly the first few games with a new deck. After that, I play it pretty well, but it takes many games before I start to really feel confident with the nuances of a deck, like scoring windows, ice placement, or timing my runs. If I didn’t stick with decks, I would never know how well I could do with them.

Since diving into earnest Netrunner play around a year ago, I’ve been playing the same factions and roughly the same decks. Biscotti’s advice agrees with my own experiences and underscores one of the things I love about the Living Card Game (LCG) format and Netrunner specifically: Unlike games like Magic: The Gathering, datapacks in Netrunner have standard contents, meaning players theoretically build from the same card pool. There are no “chase cards” or pockets of extraordinarily powerful/rare cards accessible only to players with the cash to spend, the occasional unavailability of certain data packs notwithstanding. As such, Netrunner game outcomes aren’t determined so much by specific cards or decks as they are by players’ piloting abilities; a beginner armed with a Tier 1 deck isn’t guaranteed a win against a Worlds Top 8 player who’s using subpar cards.

I point this out because, as I’ve said earlier, I’ve been playing the same decks since starting Netrunner a year ago. This includes using an NBN deck that runs the Making News identity, which comes with the Android: Netrunner Core Set.


NBN: Making News

Agenda (9)
3x AstroScript Pilot Program
2x Priority Requisition
2x Private Security Force
2x Project Beale

Asset (8)
2x Daily Business Show
2x Jackson Howard
2x Marked Accounts
2x PAD Campaign

Upgrade (2)
2x Red Herrings

Operation (16)
2x Closed Accounts
3x Hedge Fund
2x Midseason Replacements
2x Psychographics
2x Punitive Counterstrike ••••
2x Scorched Earth ••••• •••
3x Sweeps Week

Barrier (3)
3x Eli 1.0 •••

Code Gate (6)
3x Pop-up Window
1x Tollbooth

Sentry (5)
3x Data Raven
2x Guard

15 influence spent (max 15)
20 agenda points (between 20 and 21)
49 cards (min 45)
Cards up to All That Remains

Deck built on

NBN as a Corporation faction has been one of the powerhouses in the recent meta, especially with the rise of NEH: Near-Earth Hub (an ID from the Upstalk datapack) and the attendant kill decks. The release of Data & Destiny also introduced new NBN IDs, each of which has seen frequent use and even the development of certain archetypes (see: Spark Agency and its brand of econ denial). My point is that there’s a wealth of decent-to-good NBN IDs out there, and — due to my limited card pool — I’m not using any of them.

Has that harmed my Netrunner experience?

It’s 2015 and I’m still Making News

No. In fact, my Corp deck has had a good win rate since I’ve started using it, which I take as an example of how forgiving Netrunner is to people who play despite not having all of the released cards. Mine is not an optimal deck list by any means. My core strategies – score easily advanceable agendas, and/or kill the Runner who tries to steal them – aren’t novel or groundbreaking. I’m inclined to think this deck would work better with, say, a few agenda swaps, Fast Track subbing for Red Herrings, maybe even just a switch fromMaking News to NEH. But I’ve still won many of my games with this deck, and I cite that as one of the reasons why I love Netrunner. It’s a well-designed game, and the proof is in how players are allowed their successes even without having all of the cards (and certainly not all of the “good” ones).

Granted, I’ve mostly played against the 3-6 friends with whom I’ve established a weekly Netrunner group (this doubles as our meta), but I’d like to think this situation also illustrates the truth of Biscotti’s advice. Thanks to our regular games, my opponents have seen all of my deck’s tricks and have had the opportunity to tech against those tricks. I’ve managed to keep winning because, in that same period, I’ve also had the opportunity to suss out the nuances of playing this particular deck and figure out how to play it beyond relying merely on unknown/unexpected cards.

There’s a healthy competitive scene in the metro, and I’ve actually been to a Game Night once, though only as a spectator. I’m hoping to change that this year. I’d like to take an NBN deck, and will likely be taking this one, give or take a few tweaks. The addition of newer datapacks and deluxe boxes to our group’s common card pool gives me more options for improving this particular list, so I’ll be working on that. Keeping Biscotti’s advice in mind, though, I don’t think there will be any fundamental changes to the deck’s core strategies in the near future.