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Subject: Changing the Flavour of Traces rss

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Jordan Hall
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Wasn't sure what forum this should go in, so I put it in General (Variants didn't seem right).

There have been a lot of threads and posts about the trace mechanics in Netrunner. Luckily, most people seem fine with them as is. Some people, however, either see them as not performing the role they 'should' have by having too little of an impact during the game or as performing exactly the role they 'should' have as a tempo drain against the Runner.

People against traces as they are now tend to dislike how Corp credits are never invested into traces unless the result is 100% known. And when credits are finally invested, it results in exactly one of two things: The Runner doesn't fight the trace and invests 0 resources (Suffering the negative effect), or the Runner fights the trace and invests precisely the amount to defeat it (Preventing the negative effect entirely). It's cold and calculated, and certainly not 'exciting'.

A lot of times, a move back to blind bid trace mechanics gets suggested, which prompts some players of the original Netrunner to push back defensively against it. Blind bid mechanics were a drain on resources for both players, but it was random and unpredictable - both things that the designers of new Netrunner seem to want to avoid. They don't open many strategies, and seems to punish players arbitrarily. Worse, blind bid traces slowed the game down every time one of those subroutines fired.

I'd like to suggest something that might satisfy both sides.

Traces should have different thresholds which, when passed, would provide varying levels of effects. These thresholds could be dynamic based upon how much the Runner has paid to boost their link. We already see effects kind of like this in cards now, and Midseason Replacements is very close to what I'm suggesting.

For instance, the corp might bother to pump a Matrix Analyzer trace if it also had an effect like "If this trace beats the Runner's link strength by 5, you may add an advancement counter to a card that may be advanced."

The way I see it, the effects of almost all traces are fixed. Traces are binary - It happens, or it doesn't. It lacks tension. It lacks incentive for Corps to put up a fight, even if it's a losing one. Or for a Runner to resist, even if it's futile. Something is needed to make the Corp want to bid in, and something is needed to make Runner fight.

In my Matrix Analyzer variant, it allows the Corp to throw the Runner a curve ball by, say, pumping 3 credits into the effect against someone with no link. Does the Corp want the advancement counter because the card I'm running is a trap? Or does he just really want that tag? The Runner has make a choice - a choice that could be wrong. The way traces work now, the answer would be very simple given the boardstate.

You wouldn't want these threshold effects to just be magnifications of themselves (i.e. If successful, 1 tag, if trace beats link by 4, 2 tags.) as this only slightly moves away from the issue of trace results being binary without adding anything that interesting.

Basically, adding tracing threshold abilities would give Corps more of ability to conceal or misrepresent their intentions during traces (A core theme of Netrunner), and also gives Runners a way to partially resist or soften the blow of a trace that they know they cannot beat outright.

This is not to say that I think traces are broken as is, I think that, as far as game balance and mechanics go, they're fine and will not drag the game down at all. But as Running is exciting, advancing agendas is exciting, even laying ICE is exciting ("Hah, I'll get the Runner this time!"), I see no reason why tracing shouldn't also be exciting and interesting.

Hate to be cliche, but "Discuss"?
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Ken Dilloo
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Interesting. I don't think I would adopt this variant now, but I certainly wouldn't mind gradient traces, in future cards.
 
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bigloo33 wrote:
Interesting. I don't think I would adopt this variant now, but I certainly wouldn't mind gradient traces, in future cards.

Right, I think this is ripe design space for them to explore in the form of new cards like Power Grid Overload, Data Hound, etc. There are more things that can be done with traces, but they've got to establish the basics first before they get crazy.

Speaking of getting crazy, how bad an idea would it be for them to print an asset (NBN or Jinteki, maybe) that returned the game to the "blind bid" trace rules, or even forced the runner to pay first? Would it be an interesting economic threat card or would it be just as bad as if they'd never changed the basic trace rules in the first place?
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James W
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It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Perhaps something minor such as the following could be an initial starting point:

If a trace is successful during a run, the Runner suffers 1 Net Damage. This Net Damage cannot be prevented.

If a trace is successful which does not happen during a run, the Corp chooses from the following options: the Runner suffers 1 Meat Damage which cannot be prevented or the Runner loses 2 credits.

You could scale up from there. Obviously I'm suggesting these as unofficial non-competitive rules for those players who want traces to have a larger impact.

 
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Guido Gloor
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kingjames01 wrote:
It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Great ideas! They could add effects like that to upgrades, too. Something like "Whenever there is a successful trace during a run on this server, give the Runner 1 tag."

Rithrin wrote:
Hate to be cliche, but "Discuss"?

Just leave it out, it's completely redundant on a discussion board.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more interesting traces, too I'm sure they'll make them, they started already with Midseason Replacements.
 
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Tom Keaten
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ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
or even forced the runner to pay first?
I want this Asset nao. I'd put that thing behind a bigger fort than 5/3 agendas.
 
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Michael Redston
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I'd be really surprised if we won't see just such cards in the NBN deluxe.
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Ben Finkel
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haslo wrote:
Great ideas! They could add effects like that to upgrades, too. Something like "Whenever there is a successful trace during a run on this server, give the Runner 1 tag."


I hate it when people get sarcastic about these things. Just politely say that you feel that the desired effect is already in the game in the form of ChiLo City Grid and the trace cards that reward "overkill" on the traces.

As for my thoughts on the OP, I'm sure we'll see more variety in what a trace does as months go by. I'm not sure that fixed thresholds would be a particularly effective idea for making Traces more "exciting" or changing their flavor. The overkill Trace cards like Midseason Replacements feel pretty different, though.
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Fredrik Zetterman
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ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
bigloo33 wrote:
Interesting. I don't think I would adopt this variant now, but I certainly wouldn't mind gradient traces, in future cards.

Right, I think this is ripe design space for them to explore in the form of new cards like Power Grid Overload, Data Hound, etc. There are more things that can be done with traces, but they've got to establish the basics first before they get crazy.

Speaking of getting crazy, how bad an idea would it be for them to print an asset (NBN or Jinteki, maybe) that returned the game to the "blind bid" trace rules, or even forced the runner to pay first? Would it be an interesting economic threat card or would it be just as bad as if they'd never changed the basic trace rules in the first place?


That'd be awesome. I could also see a variant with recurring credits for the corp which could be added after the runner bid, say 3 creds or so. Making it an NBN asset would make traces interesting indeed.
 
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Steven Tu
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kingjames01 wrote:
It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Perhaps something minor such as the following could be an initial starting point:

If a trace is successful during a run, the Runner suffers 1 Net Damage. This Net Damage cannot be prevented.

If a trace is successful which does not happen during a run, the Corp chooses from the following options: the Runner suffers 1 Meat Damage which cannot be prevented or the Runner loses 2 credits.

You could scale up from there. Obviously I'm suggesting these as unofficial non-competitive rules for those players who want traces to have a larger impact.



That sounds insanely strong. Like insanely. Look at Caduceus. And Hunter. NBN suddenly beats Jinteki at damage.
 
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Lluluien
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Tuism wrote:
kingjames01 wrote:
It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Perhaps something minor such as the following could be an initial starting point:

If a trace is successful during a run, the Runner suffers 1 Net Damage. This Net Damage cannot be prevented.

If a trace is successful which does not happen during a run, the Corp chooses from the following options: the Runner suffers 1 Meat Damage which cannot be prevented or the Runner loses 2 credits.

You could scale up from there. Obviously I'm suggesting these as unofficial non-competitive rules for those players who want traces to have a larger impact.



That sounds insanely strong. Like insanely. Look at Caduceus. And Hunter. NBN suddenly beats Jinteki at damage.


Tu is probably right... *wistful sigh*
 
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Neksol wrote:
ElAdoranSureshot wrote:
or even forced the runner to pay first?
I want this Asset nao. I'd put that thing behind a bigger fort than 5/3 agendas.

Yeah, I was worried that it might be way too powerful even with a cheap trash cost. Protected behind the right ice, it's an asset that makes itself very difficult to trash while affecting other servers as well. Stuff like that has to be designed carefully, and I think this effect is a little more volatile than Encryption Protocol...
 
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Ony Moose
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I do think more traces should have some effect based on the difference, cards like powergrid overload and Midseason Replacements cause the runner to not always equal the corp, but spend some cash often.

You might want to save your Toolbox, but not care about your Akamatsu, or Don't mind taking 2 tags but want to avoid a complete tag storm vs Midseason.

Traces with tiered effects would be good. EG Trace:3 If this is successful give the runner a tag, if the corp's trace strength beats the runner's by 3 or more, end the run.
 
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Guido Gloor
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Azeltir wrote:
I hate it when people get sarcastic about these things.

Sorry. I think it's the "discuss." in the OP. It gets my blood boiling every single time for some reason.
 
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James W
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Tuism wrote:
kingjames01 wrote:
It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Perhaps something minor such as the following could be an initial starting point:

If a trace is successful during a run, the Runner suffers 1 Net Damage. This Net Damage cannot be prevented.

If a trace is successful which does not happen during a run, the Corp chooses from the following options: the Runner suffers 1 Meat Damage which cannot be prevented or the Runner loses 2 credits.

You could scale up from there. Obviously I'm suggesting these as unofficial non-competitive rules for those players who want traces to have a larger impact.



That sounds insanely strong. Like insanely. Look at Caduceus. And Hunter. NBN suddenly beats Jinteki at damage.


I think it's on the strong side too. I only suggest it for the players who want to homebrew a variant.

Presumably, the players would only start with a minor tweak to the rules and see if they like it.

It's definitely not a suggestion for the official ruleset. I think it's great the way it is.
 
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Lluluien
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I do think this is an interesting idea. I want an ICE like this:

Hall of Server Mirrors

Trace X: If successful, Runner gets a tag. If the Corporation wins the trace by X+Y or more, repeat this subroutine.

X and Y to be determined.
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James W
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haslo wrote:
kingjames01 wrote:
It might be worth testing out a variant which involves attaching an extra penalty to a successful trace.

Great ideas! They could add effects like that to upgrades, too. Something like "Whenever there is a successful trace during a run on this server, give the Runner 1 tag."


I'll comment on this. My suggestion would not be a temporary addition to the ruleset, such as something that only becomes active once rezzed.

This would essentially act as a permanent additional power for each Corp ID which the players who want a little more bite to the tracing mechanic can experiment with.
 
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Steven Tu
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How about:

Trace 1: If successful by exactly...
1: Runner loses 1 credit, if able.
2: Runner gives the corp 1 credit, if able.
3: End the Run
4: Runner cannot make another run this turn.
5: Runner cannot make another run this turn or next turn.
6: Runner does the funky chicken or cannot make another run EVER.
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Jack Dietz
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(strength and rez costs are irrelevant for this discussion)

Super Hunter 1:
Trace5 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag. If the amount by which the trace strength exceeded the link strength was 3 or greater, give the runner 1 additional tag. If the amount by which the trace strength exceeded the link strength was 5 or greater, end the run.

Super Hunter 2:
Trace5 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace3 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace1 - If successful, end the run.

In #2, link strength counts triple. Therefore it's more important to have link. In #1, link will still help the runner, but the runner is out of luck if the corp has many credits and they have few.

#1 is much stronger. If this card is printed, I hope they go with #1 because corps are kind of weak, I think, compared to runners.
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Chris Jackson
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jcdietz03 wrote:
(strength and rez costs are irrelevant for this discussion)

Super Hunter 1:
Trace5 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag. If the amount by which the trace strength exceeded the link strength was 3 or greater, give the runner 1 additional tag. If the amount by which the trace strength exceeded the link strength was 5 or greater, end the run.

Super Hunter 2:
Trace5 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace3 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace1 - If successful, end the run.

In #2, link strength counts triple. Therefore it's more important to have link. In #1, link will still help the runner, but the runner is out of luck if the corp has many credits and they have few.

#1 is much stronger. If this card is printed, I hope they go with #1 because corps are kind of weak, I think, compared to runners.


But if the runner wants to break Super Hunter 2, they need to pay for the extra subroutines. So it's worse against a deck that wants to run through the traces with Link, but better against a deck that wants to break them.

Either could be a pretty solid piece of ice. The defining characteristics would likely be the rez cost and strength, though, not the trace configuration.
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Chris Wood
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If this isn't the rules, by definition it's a variant isn't it? Just saying, that would have been the proper forum.
 
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James W
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Taloncarde wrote:
If this isn't the rules, by definition it's a variant isn't it? Just saying, that would have been the proper forum.


I think the OP was speculating on new mechanics that could be officially introduced in the future.

I didn't look back, but I might have been the first to suggest a homebrew variant so if the topic derailed, it's my fault, not the OP.

If we get our discussion back on track, I don't think that the thread needs to be moved into the Variants forum.
 
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Chris Wood
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kingjames01 wrote:
Taloncarde wrote:
If this isn't the rules, by definition it's a variant isn't it? Just saying, that would have been the proper forum.


I think the OP was speculating on new mechanics that could be officially introduced in the future.

I didn't look back, but I might have been the first to suggest a homebrew variant so if the topic derailed, it's my fault, not the OP.

If we get our discussion back on track, I don't think that the thread needs to be moved into the Variants forum.


Not trying to be forum police, but from the OP

Quote:
In my Matrix Analyzer variant, it allows the Corp to throw the Runner a curve ball by, say, pumping 3 credits into the effect against someone with no link.


Ah, i read the intro and this, and it sounded to me like proposing a variant. It's really not up to me, just saying if you think it should probably go in variants it probably should.
 
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Matthew M
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Moved to Variants
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jcdietz03 wrote:

Super Hunter 2:
Trace5 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace3 - If successful, give the runner 1 tag.
Trace1 - If successful, end the run.


I think this one is better, partially because it follows the structure of ice, and partially because it gives multiple subroutines to break.

I'd also like to see a similar ice:

Trace 5 - If successful, corp gains 1 credit
Trace 3 - If successful, corp gains 1 credit
Trace 1 - If successful, corp gains 1 credit
End the run if any trace was unsuccessful
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