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Subject: Help me understand traces rss

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Sebastian Zarzycki
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I tend to play NBN Making News a lot these days. After many games, some kind of pattern emerges. I cannot completely put my finger on it, but it's something related to traces. It would look to me, like traces carry some sort of psychological "lightness" - people are usually not really bothered by them. Most traces start with low base number, and even with 2 recurring credits, if they're pitched against, say, shaper with toolbox, it would look to me, like it's mostly a money drain tool for corp, rather than runner. As corp I either don't care and just go with standard trace + recurring credits for traces, or I want to trace to be successful, so I will probably spend as many credits as it requires to outbid runner. Then, most of the time, runner just bails out and doesn't bid anything, saving his money. If I bid somewhere in between, runner either will match this (so I'm losing money anyway) or don't bid again (so I'm losing money in vain). I don't know. There's something not right with traces and I cannot spot it. Most NBN cards just give a tag when trace is successful. Runners most often calculate the odds and just remove tags later, even if it's a precious click. Yes, it bumps them out a bit from, but then, it bumps me even more, if I spend money on traces. I mean, seriously, did you ever see Burge Bugs trace succeeding or Runner trying so hard to prevent Matrix Analyzer from triggering? Looks like an exercise in futility. If you're about giving tags, then it seems like they're more stable ways of doing that. Long story short, traces seem like they're done deal from the very beginning - either the trace amount exceeds link greatly, so it makes little sens to spend money to counter, or the trace is lower/equal to link and runner is in favor, because he just have to match it. I don't remember any "mind game" situation of "if I spend x, then he will spend y".

What would be the economical equivalent, but better? An operation card that could cost from 1-5, and it's actually a guaranteed result.

I seem to be struggling a lot with good tracing NBN deck. 2 recurring credits are pretty much going to waste most of the time. Yes, they pose initial threat of +2 for trace, but it's only for the first one. I think it would be way more exciting, if the trace spending would not be openly, but hidden, as with certain ICE effects. I don't understand fully what would be the consequences of that, balance-wise, but it just clicks better with me. Or maybe is it a problem with limited card pool? I can splash Scorched Earth for tag, but... meh, I don't know.

Do you feel similarly? What's the mistake in my thinking? How to put traces to good use and make runner actually fear them?
 
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Steven Tu
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Tracing and tagging are different things. Being able to tag means nothing if you can't punish them having a tag. Being able to trace means nothing if they don't have to fear the consequence of the trace.

What punishes tags? It's not just Scorched Earth.
1. Psychographics
2. Closed Accounts
3. Freelancer
4. Just plain trashing resources
5. Private Security Force
6. Dedicated Response Team

There aren't that many, but that's kinda the point, so that the game doesn't degenerate into "I'm tagged, ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN.". There's a few things you know that *could* happen to you, but not that many.

As for traces outside of tagging, the BEST trace effects are:
Data Raven, Ichi 1.0 if it ever lands, Caduceus, Bernice Mai.
Shadow, Hunter, (haha Shadow Hunter) Ash, Flare, Midseason TAG MADNESS... Etc. But if the trace tags, it means nothing if you can't punish.

But you can't overload your deck with trace too - because that means you'll have too many traces to use your 2 trace creds for.


-----------------------

As for the mechanics of trace, the old Netrunner had a blind bid system, and that was deemed too random. It's like you might as well throw dice. There is still that element left in the current game with a few of the Jinteki ICE - Bullfrog and Snowflake, so far.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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- Psychographics is worthless with 1 tag only - its simple advancement. 2+ - yes, it's good, I have it in my deck. But it's very situational. If you happen not to have agenda on remote, this is a dead card. Or you can advance some ice, but it feels like a waste.
- Closed Accounts is very good, also have it in my deck. But I've found out that's not that big of a hurdle as it looks on paper. Maybe it's because I play against shaper a lot lately. So I wipe couple of credits. Next turn, Shaper will joyfully perform a clickity-click on MO and regain everything. Slightly out of tempo, but not that much.
- Freelancer / Resources - also very situational, sometimes runners don't have resources at all, or have them used already (like armitage).

PSF and Response Team - I agree, I should probably look into them more.

But, as you've mentioned, it's not really about tagging. It's the trace that feels currently not meaningful enough, at least to me. Maybe it's the nature of NBN. Maybe it's the result of playing against Shaper.

I absolutely disagree that blind bit is like throwing a dice. Blind bid is actually an open field for mind games to kick in - that's exactly what's happening at Bullfrog and I like it very much. With traces, I almost exclusively feel like I'm either gaining nothing of importance, and would probably prefer just simple "end the run" ice, or making a fool out of myself by spending lots of creds to pump up trace, only to hear that runner isn't adding anything.

I think I have to come up with some sort of economical calculation of ice with trace. Not only you have to rez them, but you have to constantly pay for them if you want them to be of any meaning. With 4 clicks, runner can easily get a tag, find his way to agenda on remote, clear the tag and be done with it. Even if I have punishment cards in my deck, I simply lose too much by situation offset - tag with psychographics without agenda, closed accounts when runner is low anyway, PSF not scored yet, etc. No wonder Scorched Earth is so popular. Tag'n'bag, just play it for 3 creds.

Or maybe I'm just playing NBN wrong
 
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James W
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rattkin wrote:

Or maybe I'm just playing NBN wrong


That was my thought while reading the thread.

Edit: Well, allow me to elaborate on that last statement. There is no absolute 'wrong' way to play, just less competitive.

Now, I don't believe you're playing NBN wrong. However, I believe you're thinking about the game and the choices within wrong.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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kingjames01 wrote:
rattkin wrote:

Or maybe I'm just playing NBN wrong


That was my thought while reading the thread.

Edit: Well, allow me to elaborate on that last statement. There is no absolute 'wrong' way to play, just less competitive.

Now, I don't believe you're playing NBN wrong. However, I believe you're thinking about the game and the choices within wrong.


Define wrong? I'd like to stress out that this comes from actual playing, not theorycrafting possible outcomes. I simply got frustrated with little effectiveness of traces, and I feel it has something to do with either my choice of cards in deck, or limited amount of cards available to choose from.
 
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James W
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rattkin wrote:
kingjames01 wrote:
rattkin wrote:

Or maybe I'm just playing NBN wrong


That was my thought while reading the thread.

Edit: Well, allow me to elaborate on that last statement. There is no absolute 'wrong' way to play, just less competitive.

Now, I don't believe you're playing NBN wrong. However, I believe you're thinking about the game and the choices within wrong.


Define wrong? I'd like to stress out that this comes from actual playing, not theorycrafting possible outcomes. I simply got frustrated with little effectiveness of traces, and I feel it has something to do with either my choice of cards in deck, or limited amount of cards available to choose from.


Well, based on your posts above, it seems as though you believe that the act of tracing the Runner is supposed to, on average, be a significant event. Also, if the trace is successful, the flow of the game should shift against the Runner.

Now, I may be wrong, but that's the impression that I received while reading your thoughts.

Obviously, I can't critique your play since I don't believe that we've ever had the opportunity, but I can at least point out that, if what I said above is true, then you should probably adjust your views on tracing.

My suggestion is for the next few games as NBN - Making News, only use your recurring credits to boost the trace, UNLESS a successful trace is going to definitively swing the game in your favour.

Be satisfied if the Runner doesn't spend their credits to fight the trace, but uses an extra click later.

Also, be satisfied if the Runner does spend their credits to fight the trace.

Either way, be satisfied. At the end of your games, evaluate the effects of those traces. How much did the Runners have to give up (credits, clicks, other) when they allowed you to start the trace?

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Evan
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I agree with most of your analysis, if not your conclusions ...The main point of trace is to enable effects that would be otherwise prohibitive. For example, if they made a Sure-Fire SEA Source with no trace, just automatic tag, that would be overpowered unless it cost waaay more, so they gave it a counter in the form of outspending the corp and/or link. In that regard, trace is basically the same sort of deal as psi or bioroids; TMI, Snowflake, and Eli are stronger or cheaper than Wall of Static because they're each porous in a certain way.

One thing I like about trace is that it does enable fun effects like on Midseason Replacements or Data Hound. And although I can't speak to what it was like in the original, I agree with Steven; with blind bids, they might as well just fold the mechanic into psi, because there wouldn't be nearly enough to distinguish it. So instead they designed it to occupy an intermediate mind-game level between the absolute predictability of "pay to match strength, pay to break" and the sheer rock-paper-scissoriness of psi.

But tastes vary. Among the effects I mentioned above, my preference ranking goes: trace, psi, bioroids. I hate click-to-break; dunno why, just can't deal with it, so I don't play HB much. So it's unfortunate that there's so much trace, and so little psi, but I'm sure there'll be more eventually.


edit: but yes, also what James said. Again, it's like bioroids (or any ice, for that matter): the trick is to put yourself in the position where you're happy when it stops them, but also happy when it wastes their resources.
 
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Jeff Kayati
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If you're only playing against Shaper with extra link, tracing becomes less valuable and more difficult. Try adding in a ChiLo or Bernice Mai to give a second tag during a run. That can ruin a runner's plan to take the tag and spend a click to remove it. Making them spend two clicks and four credits for one run is a win for you.

Getting your traces to work can be tough with a high link runner, you've got to have the economy to make it work. Try running Pop-Up windows to give you more credits every time there is a run. Installing multiple layers of ICE with trace on them can drain the runner's credits on one run.

Pop-Up Window in front of a Data Raven in front of a Uroboros is a lovely combo of ICE, especially if you have ways to punish the runner with tags.
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Matt
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Tuism wrote:
As for the mechanics of trace, the old Netrunner had a blind bid system, and that was deemed too random. It's like you might as well throw dice. There is still that element left in the current game with a few of the Jinteki ICE - Bullfrog and Snowflake, so far.


kobold47 wrote:
One thing I like about trace is that it does enable fun effects like on Midseason Replacements or Data Hound. And although I can't speak to what it was like in the original, I agree with Steven; with blind bids, they might as well just fold the mechanic into psi, because there wouldn't be nearly enough to distinguish it. So instead they designed it to occupy an intermediate mind-game level between the absolute predictability of "pay to match strength, pay to break" and the sheer rock-paper-scissoriness of psi.


The original trace mechanic was blind bid highest wins (Runner wins ties), but the Corp also had a ceiling of credits they were allowed to spend on the trace (trace5, for example, meant blind bid on trace, with the Corp spending a maximum of 5 bits/credits). Corp never really had a chance to land a trace...

Did I mention I love the new mechanic

EDIT: quote tag fail
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Thanks Jeff, you seem to extract the most important information and come up with proper advice Bernice Mai sounds like a good suggestion, and I slowly begin to understand why.

My unexpressed chain of thought was that for most of NBN ice, trace do not pose any real meaning in the early game (they get tagged, but you rarely can take advantage out of it at this stage, unless you're really really lucky with initial draw). On the other hand, later in mid-game, most NBN ice is weak for Shaper, so they won't bother with even considering trace mumbo-jumbo, they just break subroutine - most ICE have only one and Uroboros is expensive and *still* doesn't pose any significant threat, as runner will usually break or trace the end-the-run subroutine and allow for the second one (no more runs this turn). Shapers rarely run few times during their turns, so they will go for one big run anyway - and uroboros is not stopping them.

Bernice Mai on the other hand cannot be countered with icebreaker - it still can be thrashed after the run, but it costs nothing to rez and the higher trace increases chance of giving a free tag. I'm not sure if it works so well with ChiLo (I probably prefer Big Brother).

Still, it always inevitably goes back to tagging. And responding to tags is still situational and a little bit shaky. Most traces that do something different than tagging starts with very lousy trace0 or trace2 - and are generally not considered as a threat. Yes, I know that trace shouldn't be a game changer, but if it doesn't add anything that I can really work with, then it makes little sense to rez it, and it's better to work with other ice. Flare might a be an exception here and I guess I will drop Tollbooth and try to rez Flare instead. But, I still think that against Shaper, I probably need to do something different. Doing net/meat damage doesn't hurt them that much, as they have diesel and quality time. Tagging or resource draining isn't that much, as they will replenish with MO. Thrashing programs seems like something that hurts Shaper the most. Hints?
 
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James W
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Are you now asking, "As NBN, how should I combat Shapers" or "As NBN, how should I combat Shapers using traces"?

 
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Kevin Jones
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Admittedly, Shapers are probably the hardest to hit with traces, since they tend to get link boosts in faction. If you're looking to combat them, either find better ways to punish failed traces or see how well it works against the other factions.

Things that might be effective in your case is splashing in some other ICE, like Viper. Burke's Bugs might also be useful in your case, as actually bidding credits will cost the runner one program (perhaps their precious Magnum Opus). Power Grid Overload also gives the runner a reason to pay attention to traces, as you can either take out a piece of hardware or force them to spend enough money to hurt. Foxfire can also be good to trash their links, so that they start weaker.

Otherwise, as people say, either find better ways to punish the runner for taking tags (like super-boosting a Project Beale) or try to build your deck in a way that isn't quite as trace-dependent.
 
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Doug Law
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Ironically, my favorite play style is a Weyland deck with 3 Scorched Earth, but I rarely spend money on traces. I will only do it if I know I can flatline the runner or it sets it up. I will happily exploit snare tags or tags they take vvoluntarily. Otherwise, I would rather just spend money scoring agendas. I don't think it's ever a good idea to spend money on a trace unless you are sure of exactly what you will get out of it.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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My point exactly. I do run an NBN deck but I don't have many traces exactly for the reasons stated in previous posts. Given the recurring creds identity, it's just plain weird and I feel like I'm crippled from the very beginning. NBN ice doesn't help at the beginning, which means I have to go out of faction for better ETR ice, usually without traces. It feels like a suboptimal choice and maybe that's the reason people tend to play HB fast advance, not NBN fast advance. It just feels hard to protect 5 points agenda in early game. I do have some tricks to alleviate that, but the general gist is that traces seem a wee bit too weak to me to consider them on ice. I'd be happy to learn a contrary example.
 
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Steven Tu
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There was a very good discussion in another thread that was basically about traces and that people said that they were too weak.

I said that that tracing was a way to gain an economic advantage over the runner, not a way to "drastically change the game". For every 3 creds the runner is paying to beat a trace or 2 and a click to remove a tag, you're dictating the pace of the game. If you can control that well enough it's a huge advantage.

I'm not go into specifics as I already have in my first post, but those recurring trace creds have a great home in one of many ice and/or effects. If you find them useless on, say, caduceus or Ichi, then you're not seeing the amount of money that the runner is spending to match you as an advantage. If they run them they're spending resource for uncertainty (unless of course you try and defend an agenda with them, but then why would you???). If they don't run them then they've done their job in being essentially impenetrable.
 
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Eric F
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rattkin wrote:
What would be the economical equivalent, but better? An operation card that could cost from 1-5, and it's actually a guaranteed result.

...

Do you feel similarly? What's the mistake in my thinking? How to put traces to good use and make runner actually fear them?


If you're just starting out with NBN, just throw in 3x Midseason Replacements. I've been back and forth on this card, but especially when you're learning (or your opponents are learning), it's pretty effective for what you want it to do.

It makes every agenda a threat. If you're porous NBN (or even semi-porous) because you have tracing and/or tagging ICE, you can give away a Breaking News or a Beale/PSF to drown the runner in tags, almost guaranteed. Someone who just turtles up on money though, you should just advance those cards and not give them any breathing room.

As you get better at NBN, start trying to get the runner to take more risks faster by taking risks yourself. I don't think people play NBN because they want solid reliable defenses; if you want that, Weyland or HB will be more to your style. Try putting higher-strength ICE with traces in your deck (Hunter is a prime example).

You must have tag threats. You must have tag threats. You must have tag threats. Tags on their own do nothing, so make runners fear them. You have a variety of options in this category, throw _all_ of them into your deck and see which ones you like. In order of popularity/winning you the game: Scorched Earth (4 INF), Closed Accounts, PSF Lock, Psychographics, Freelancer.

You have access to the best tagging card in the entire game. It also happens to be temporary tags, and also happens to be an agenda. Breaking News is probably the absolute best card in the entire game for tagging. It's guaranteed, it gives two tags, it's medium-risk high-reward. It uses no trace. You should be running 3 in your deck if you want to use tags, even if it puts you at 21 AP.

(Balance-wise, hidden traces were previously a thing. It didn't go well at all.)
 
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Simon Gunkel
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There´s also a response to link in the form of net police, which coupled with powergrid overload can take down the sources of links (add tags and take out their resource based link or pseudo-link). You can use NP either to keep generating creds or as a trap - they run a data raven thinking they can beat the trace, you rez a NP or 2, DR gets a counter... Or even rez NP and then Power-Grid...

If you play agaisnt shaper a lot, that´s a card that´ll help you a lot, even if it just means they have to run the remote they are in and trash it.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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I've tried with Net Police but it wasn't very reliable. Installing it takes a click and then it is hard to defend them - I still need at least one server for pushing my big agendas, and probably at least another one or two for economy (pad / marked accounts). I would have to spread myself thin and runner would still thrash it easily in spare click. I don't think I will be in tempo, trying to ice it. Again, it's too situational and it's just better to have more creds to be able to get through traces safely. Power Grid Overload is interesting, but it's unlikely I will thrash Runner's Toolbox and other consoles will be replaced quickly. I will have to look at this closer. It might be helpful at the very beginning to slow runner down, but not sure how much. If someone goes with r&d/hq interfaces and replicator, they won't suffer that much. Consoles, maybe, but if they run 3 in deck, shouldn't be that much of a problem. Midseasons I completely skipped for some reason, but now that I look at it, it's interesting, as it's played in my turn, has the potential of giving out more than 1 tag, which is usually something runner does not expect/like.

The main problem is that if I switch NBN into aggressive deck, I might not be able to advance quickly enough - and might as well just turn full aggressive and don't advance agendas in remotes at all. And it would look to me that Scorched Earth is *the* way of making it aggressive, but it costs almost all influence. If I want to fast advance, then I need the more stable ETR ice, which means either reaching out of faction or neutrals. These don't use traces, etc... argh, my head is burning

Thanks for all the kind advice, though. Will try to explore it more, but it would look to me, like I will have to rely on cheap ice and try to build from there. Until now, I've always tried to hoard around ~8 creds for flare/tollbooth, at least until I've scored priority req (but it was often too late). Maybe it doesn't make much sense, and it's better to have them for midseasons, psychographics or sure traces.
 
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Steven Tu
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The key to using trace creds in NBN isn't to get MORE trace-ICE - the worst you can do in NBN is to use too many tracers - you won't have enough trace creds to go around to every ICE every turn, and will leave you weaker.

There's nothing wrong with outsourcing ICE to ETR. There's nothing wrong with outsourcing ICE with good trace (Caduceus). If you think that way you might as well play pure in-faction with no influence... And that's counter the point.

Re: Power Grid Overload, it's not the best card ever, it really isn't. But if only ever compare it to best-case-scenarios against runner (RDI with Replicator, wanting to kill Toolboxes only) then it'll of course suck utterly. I've managed to kill a few Desperados and mem chips that turned off contacts and trashed a program. That's best case scenario. The norm will always lie somewhere between the two.

I think you need to see the input cost in relation with the output value. Tracing really is a big drain on the runner if they don't break subs, especially if you use trace creds. If they're breaking subs, you win too, tracers typically are stronger strength than their non-trace brothers, and thus cost more to break. Win-win.
 
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James W
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It still sounds to me like you are thinking about the game in the wrong way.

I'm glad you got the answer you wanted to hear though. Good luck in your future games!
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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You know that these kind of statements really don't add anything to the case? So you think I think "in the wrong way". So what? You think in the good way, right? What is "the wrong way"?

If what you're trying to say is that I look too much for "ultimate proven" solutions, and less for distracting tempo and economy bit by bit, then I'm quite aware of this and it's on purpose, even if exaggerated. This thread is really a mix of "different nbn tactics", "how to put traces to good use", "are there enough cards to choose from", "how to tackle shaper when playing nbn" and "what are the best tag punishments". It's ok, because these things are always correlated. I had some tough fights with Shaper, and I've found that traces are not that effective against Shaper - and struggling with it to figure out a better setup. I don't want to spiral into the inevitable "Scorched Earth" maelstrom, I'm not trying to build a "good deck", most people would agree with - I've done this before. I'm not going to surprise anyone in my local meta with old tricks, plascrete will land on the table sooner than you can say Alabama. Now I'm looking for "different deck" and I'm exploring various psychological outcomes of playing trace. I would still uphold my opinion that traces on ice are less effective than traces from other places (upgrades/operations).

I'm not sure I got the answers I wanted to hear, because I don't know what I wanted to hear. But at least I have some food for thought.
 
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James W
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rattkin wrote:
You know that these kind of statements really don't add anything to the case? So you think I think "in the wrong way". So what? You think in the good way, right? What is "the wrong way"?

If what you're trying to say is that I look too much for "ultimate proven" solutions, and less for distracting tempo and economy bit by bit, then I'm quite aware of this and it's on purpose, even if exaggerated. This thread is really a mix of "different nbn tactics", "how to put traces to good use", "are there enough cards to choose from", "how to tackle shaper when playing nbn" and "what are the best tag punishments". It's ok, because these things are always correlated. I had some tough fights with Shaper, and I've found that traces are not that effective against Shaper - and struggling with it to figure out a better setup. I don't want to spiral into the inevitable "Scorched Earth" maelstrom, I'm not trying to build a "good deck", most people would agree with - I've done this before. I'm not going to surprise anyone in my local meta with old tricks, plascrete will land on the table sooner than you can say Alabama. Now I'm looking for "different deck" and I'm exploring various psychological outcomes of playing trace. I would still uphold my opinion that traces on ice are less effective than traces from other places (upgrades/operations).

I'm not sure I got the answers I wanted to hear, because I don't know what I wanted to hear. But at least I have some food for thought.


So anyway, yeah... I think perhaps something was lost in translation. You started a discussion and I contributed to it. This is a surprisingly hostile response.



I addressed your original question above.

If these various topics was really what you wanted to talk about, then you should have started with that instead, right?

 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Oh, my apologies then, it wasn't my intention to push this out as hostile. I just wanted to learn more, but, I indeed, sort of skipped your response. Sorry!

Elaborating more, my problem with "be satisfied" is that I've noticed that apparently I'm not. As admitted earlier, this can stem either from me playing trace ice wrong, or the general perceived usability of those ice.

In a very short summary:

- at the beginning, trace ice usually doesn't stop runner from reaching the sever
- at the beginning, runner usually has more creds than corp (corp had to rez ice) so at potential trace battle, runner can match the trace
- gaining advantage from giving a tag at the beginning is very situational and depends greatly on draw - whether you have closed accounts or some damage card on hand. Psychographics aren't that useful at this stage. Good Runner knows this and will either run with filled hand or leave a click to clear up the tag afterwards.
- later in the game, runner doesn't give a damn about trace subroutines and just breaks them. If it's Shaper, his link can sometimes get up to 4 or 5, and he can jump into most traces without worrying about corp bumping up the ante (doesn't make sense for corp to spend money on this, as pointed out in this thread).

This is why my perception of trace ice is what it is. Traces in form of operation or upgrade are different and should be considered separately.
 
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