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Subject: Deckbuilding 101 - The Corporation rss

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Greg Nordeng
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I have seen a lot of posters on BGG that are new to the game and I have personally been teaching a fair amount of new people ANR recently. I wrote this up to help them get started with deckbuilding since it can be a little overwhelming when just learning the game. The runner installment will come in time as that is an even more intricate process. New players, I hope this helps. Grizzled vets, I hope I didn't make a mockery of the process. If I did, please call me out so people can learn properly. Here you go...

Deck building 101 for competitive decks

Corporation:

Introduction:

You might build decks for a variety of reasons. To try new cards, to find combos, or just to try something fun and different. Having these options are just part of what makes this game so great. This guide, however, is aimed toward those players that are new to the game and attempting to build decks that can compete and win in a competitive match.

I am sure there are many things I am missing in this guide. I tried to make it as comprehensive as I could, but that would be nearly impossible and the guide itself will stay a work in progress. I hope I will at least touch all of the basics and essentials of building a Corp deck to point you in the right direction.

You will read the words “usually” and “typically” often. This is because there are very limited decisions that are definitively “correct” without knowing all of the information available. A play that is usually correct is not always correct. It’s up to your discretion to know the difference.

Pick a reliable win condition and build around it: Here are some common strategies to win as corp:

Fast Advance: Typically a Haas Bioroid/NBN strategy. ICE is often less powerful and cheaper, and the play style is usually to try and score before the runner can get their rig (programs and resources) set up, or trash their rig along the way making it very difficult to access servers. Once the runners rig is fully set up, use cards like Biotic Labor and SanSan City Grid to close out the game. Do this by scoring agendas from HQ without giving the runner a chance to steal them from a remote server.

Big ICE/Big $$$: Typically a Weyland/Haas-Bioroid Strategy. Score early behind cheap ETR (End The Run) ICE. Mid-late game, try to lure the runner into running remotes with expensive to break ICE. If you place any upgrade or asset in this remote, the runner will have a tough decision to make. If they run it and it’s not an agenda, they just used all their credits and now you can probably score on the next turn when they are broke. If they don’t run and its an agenda, well, that’s bad for them too! The more difficult decisions you give the runner, the more likely you are to win. Cards like Ash and Red Herring are good for this strategy. You will need a lot of money as corp to play these kinds of decks, so build accordingly.

Flatline: Weyland likes meat damage, and Jinteki likes net damage. If this is your strategy, be aggressive but give yourself another way to win in case the runner plays defense against the flatline. Flatlining usually functions better as a secondary win condition.

Some hybrid of the above: There are plenty of other strategies. These are just general ideas that have already proven to be successful against a variety of runners and skill levels. Mixing it up is the art (and fun)!

PICKING THE CARDS:

1 - Select your agendas: They are required anyway, and depending on the type of agendas you play will affect other cards you choose. 3 point agendas (aka 5/3’s) will lower your agenda density, but are hard to score as they usually take 6 clicks (including install) and 5 credits to do so. If you decide to play 3 point agendas, make sure you can defend them properly, or have advancable assets to keep the runner guessing what it is. 2 point agendas (3/2 or 4/2) are staples for fast advance decks, especially the 3/2’s as they can easily be scored from hand. 1 point agendas (1/3’s or 2/1’s) are slower to win with, but generally have pretty strong scoring benefits.

Think logically as to how your going to score your agenda points. For example: If you play six 5/3’s (18 points) in a Weyland deck, what will you do for the last 2-3 points required to make it legal? You know already you will need to score at least two 5/3’s to win by agenda points. The right play is probably to play 2 or 3 Hostile Takeovers (2/1). You can score them the same turn you draw them, and since you only need one more point, why make it any harder on yourself to win with bigger agendas?

2a - Select ICE: Pick ICE that will fit your budget and win condition. Know that aggressive runners might not always be deterred by cards that do not end the run. Non-ETR cards like Pop-up window and Shadow have advantages, but are usually not good in front of agendas or trashable assets on remote severs since the runner will be able to get through regardless of the penalty. These cards are usually better on central servers since they tend to get run more often, and will tax the runner every time they do run. Remote servers will typically have more ICE with the ETR subroutine to be able to stop runners from scoring or trashing installed cards.

You will need a variety of early game cheap ICE (4 credits or less), and mid-late game ICE. It does little good to draw 3 ICE in your opening hand that all cost 8 to rez. Conversely, cheap ICE is usually nullified pretty easily in the late game, and you will need something stronger to slow the runner down.

2b - Amount of ICE: Can vary quite a bit from deck to deck, but 18 ICE is a recommended minimum for new players. Big ICE/Big $$$ decks will often have up to 24 (maybe more) pieces of ICE. Some decks can play with less than 18 ICE, but will need to apply a strategy to compensate for the lack of ICE.

*Note* ICE is usually only good at ending the run in the first 5-10 turns. Thereafter, the runner will start installing programs and be able to break subroutines. ICE at this point only makes running servers more economically inefficient. It's unrealistic to "Stop" the runner all game, and you must plan for this.

3 - Using influence and focusing on win condition cards: Many options here, but every faction or deck has weaknesses. Find cards that will cover weaknesses, or allow your win condition to flourish. Surprise cards can be powerful, but are often gimmicky. Try to build decks that will be good every time you play them I.E. The lower the variance there is to meet your win condition, the better. Crazy combo decks are beautiful when they work, but are usually not reliable enough to be effective, or better as secondary win conditions.

Example: A Haas-Bioroid Fast Advance deck might use SanSan City Grid (3 influence) and Biotic Labor in a deck. This really loads up on the fast advance ability, and gives the corporation more flexibility to score when they like. NBN often likes to use a card like Caduceus, because it is a pseudo-econ card (NBN traditionally weak in econ), and it utilizes the additional trace credits available with the Making News identity.

4 - Pick your econ: There are 2 types of pure econ cards. Asset or burst. Assets will use "drip" econ where they gain a little every turn and will tax the runner if they choose to trash your assets. These are good in that they will usually yield more money long term if they are not trashed, and if runners do trash them, it makes the runner spend money thus making it tougher to get through other ICED servers. The downside is that you can lose money in these if the runner trashes them, and they will often need to be protected by ICE to make them effective. Burst econ are operations that have a one time use, but are very reliable and give you the money right away. Typically anywhere from 9-15 econ cards in a deck is recommended.

5 - Fill any gaps: Look it over. Count, agendas, ICE, look for vulnerabilities, and piece in any cards that might patch it up.

6 - Play the deck:
You will need to play the deck several times before you can assess how it’s performing. Don’t draw too many conclusions from one game as the luck variant is prevalent in this game. After several plays you may start to notice certain tendencies like not enough money to rez ICE. This could be a function of too much expensive ICE, or not enough economy (important distinction). Ideally play against different runners and running styles so you have as much of a 360° perspective as possible. Be objective. Don’t get bent on making something work if it’s not going to work. There is no shame in scrapping a deck or putting it on the shelf and waiting for future cards to make it work.

7 - Make the appropriate changes: Getting a deck the way you want it can take time, much testing, and many mistakes. It is a very rewarding experience to have it perform just how you like it on a consistent basis and persistence will pay off.

General tips:

1, 2 or 3 of a card...

3, if I want it early and or often. (Hedge Fund, cheap ICE that ends the run, Jackson Howard)

2, if it’s a card I want eventually, but maybe not immediately or often.(Wotan, Mellange Mining Corp, SEA Source)

1, if it's a card I can do without, but can be a game changer if I can activate it.(Edge of World, Corporate Troubleshooter, Janus)

Although no card is an "auto-include" in a deck, these are some that are highly recommended.

-Jackson Howard (at least 2). Huge security card for Corp, can rescue trashed agendas, or rework cards in to R&D you want to use again, not to mention rush through your deck to look for the cards you need at any given time.

-Hedge Fund (3). Maybe the best opening hand card in most decks. Money is key, and early money is more key.

45-49 (40-44 TWIY) VS. Bigger decks: Most people play the maximum cards without needing to add additional agendas. This will lower agenda density and make it less likely for you and the runner to find agendas. Keep in mind some corp decks want to find agendas early and often, so higher agenda density is not always a bad thing. I believe strong decks can be built with 50+ cards, but naturally the more cards you include, the less likely you are to get any 1 card you put in the deck. A common mistake with new deck builders is making the decks too big and watering down your ability to find the cards you need, when you need them.

Random Math tips: Variance needs to be accounted for. Any one card will have approximately a 2% chance to be drawn in 49 card deck. If you have 3 copies of that card, your chance of having at least 1 in your opening 5 card hand is approximately 28%. A deck with 9 cheap ICE will have approximately a %65 chance of getting at least one of these in the opening hand. You can use these calculations to approximate starting hands.

Collaborate with stronger players: Have strong players review and critique your deck (and play) and be wise enough to listen. Don’t be that person that asks for advice and then justifies every decision they made in the deck. I have seen alternate perspectives really enhance my decks when I was “certain” I had it right. Conversely, know who isn’t a strong player, and how to not listen to their input. My favorite method is to politely smile and nod, but in my head sing the Macarena. You have to find what works best for you.

**EDIT - Random Math Tips has been updated with much more accurate numbers**


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Zaid
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This is wonderful. I just got into Netrunner and plan to only pick up a pack here and there. I have no intention of owning everything, but you definitely have broken down deck-building and made it feasible to approach for a new-comer. Thank you.
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Yi Sheng Siow
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A win condition refers to a card that allows you to close out the game once you have arrived at a certain board state. In MTG, many hardcore control decks played only one win condition in their whole deck. Using it in this context is wrong. In fact there are very few situations in which I would use the term win condition in netrunner. In glacier, off the grid is a win condition, that allow you to score off a remote at a leisurely pace once centrals are airtight. In accelerated scorch, win condition is probably getting the combination of scorches/jacksons/accelerated to flatline the runner.

There are tons of ways to build decks. The most helpful categorisation of the ways is probably in terms of the starting perspective. Are you looking at the deck top-down, bottom-up, front-back or back-front? Patrick Chapin talks about this very clearly in this video, which relates to mtg, but also is completely relevant to netrunner.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10964165/magic_tv_extra_patric...
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Greg Nordeng
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siowy wrote:
A win condition refers to a card that allows you to close out the game once you have arrived at a certain board state. In MTG, many hardcore control decks played only one win condition in their whole deck. Using it in this context is wrong. In fact there are very few situations in which I would use the term win condition in netrunner. In glacier, off the grid is a win condition, that allow you to score off a remote at a leisurely pace once centrals are airtight. In accelerated scorch, win condition is probably getting the combination of scorches/jacksons/accelerated to flatline the runner.

There are tons of ways to build decks. The most helpful categorisation of the ways is probably in terms of the starting perspective. Are you looking at the deck top-down, bottom-up, front-back or back-front? Patrick Chapin talks about this very clearly in this video, which relates to mtg, but also is completely relevant to netrunner.

http://www.metacafe.com/watch/10964165/magic_tv_extra_patric...


Thank you for your feedback. I can see in the strictest sense, I misused the term "Win Condition". In case anyone is confused and I never edit it out, I simply meant "Win Condition" as a path to victory.
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Jacek Wieszaczewski
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Nords3x4 wrote:
Fast Advance: Typically a Haas Bioroid/NBN strategy. ICE is often less powerful and cheaper, and the play style is usually to try and score before the runner can get their rig (programs and resources) set up, or trash their rig along the way making it very difficult to access servers. Once the runners rig is fully set up, use cards like Biotic Labor and SanSan City Grid to close out the game. Do this by scoring agendas from HQ without giving the runner a chance to steal them from a remote server.

I'd say that Fast Advance is what you describe in last two sentences - aiming to score with the agenda never staying on the table during runner's turn. Characteristics of this deck are 3/2 agendas (which is the main reason this is an NBN/HB deck, as those corps can play 6 such agendas in their deck), fast advance enablers (cards that allow you to score a 3/2 agenda from hand, most commonly used being SanSan City Grid, Biotic Labor and Trick of Light) and ice best suited to protect central servers (because you have nothing or little to protect in remotes).

Scoring early in the game behind cheap end the run ice is usually called rush. As usually you won't score 7 points this way, it's an early game plan that needs to transition into some endgame plan. I feel the idea of rushing first points to make the runner less cautious as you are close to ending the game is important enough to be mentioned here, and good thing is that it's enough to write 2-3 sentences about it and refer to a really great recent blog post by Sirprim: Matchpoint theory and rush hybrids

siowy wrote:
A win condition refers to a card that allows you to close out the game once you have arrived at a certain board state. (...) Using it in this context is wrong. In fact there are very few situations in which I would use the term win condition in netrunner.
Which is why in Netrunner it started to be used as "the way your deck aims to win".
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Greg Nordeng
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hsiale wrote:
Nords3x4 wrote:
Fast Advance: Typically a Haas Bioroid/NBN strategy. ICE is often less powerful and cheaper, and the play style is usually to try and score before the runner can get their rig (programs and resources) set up, or trash their rig along the way making it very difficult to access servers. Once the runners rig is fully set up, use cards like Biotic Labor and SanSan City Grid to close out the game. Do this by scoring agendas from HQ without giving the runner a chance to steal them from a remote server.

I'd say that Fast Advance is what you describe in last two sentences - aiming to score with the agenda never staying on the table during runner's turn. Characteristics of this deck are 3/2 agendas (which is the main reason this is an NBN/HB deck, as those corps can play 6 such agendas in their deck), fast advance enablers (cards that allow you to score a 3/2 agenda from hand, most commonly used being SanSan City Grid, Biotic Labor and Trick of Light) and ice best suited to protect central servers (because you have nothing or little to protect in remotes).

Scoring early in the game behind cheap end the run ice is usually called rush. As usually you won't score 7 points this way, it's an early game plan that needs to transition into some endgame plan. I feel the idea of rushing first points to make the runner less cautious as you are close to ending the game is important enough to be mentioned here, and good thing is that it's enough to write 2-3 sentences about it and refer to a really great recent blog post by Sirprim: Matchpoint theory and rush hybrids

siowy wrote:
A win condition refers to a card that allows you to close out the game once you have arrived at a certain board state. (...) Using it in this context is wrong. In fact there are very few situations in which I would use the term win condition in netrunner.
Which is why in Netrunner it started to be used as "the way your deck aims to win".


Yes, that's a great thread to read by Sirprim! Thank you for adding the distinction between "rush" and fast advance. I think when referring to a deck type like HBFA(Haas-Bioroid Fast Advance) it's implied "rushing" is a subset strategy of a "Fast Advance" deck.
 
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Xerxes Praelor
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We all know what win conditions are. A win condition is something that helps you win the battle in the end. It could be anything from taking out the opponent's Gastrodon for your Choice Scarf Thundurus-T to sweep the rest of the opponent's team (or aid in the taking down of their team), or, in stall's case, stopping them at all moments until their team is brutalized, then pick them off with weak, defensive Pokemon. But, there's a catch: you also have to know your opponent's win condition. If your opponent can take out one of your 'mons so their's can sweep, it's gg right there. So, it's your goal to, at the beginning of a battle, think of which 'mons of theirs can threaten you most, think of a way to beat said 'mon(s), then look at your team and see what can threaten their team after you've beaten said threats.


On a more serious note, 2/1s are normally not that good, and sadly Scorched Earth deserves much bigger writing space than Big Ice.
 
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Jacek Wieszaczewski
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Nords3x4 wrote:
I think when referring to a deck type like HBFA(Haas-Bioroid Fast Advance) it's implied "rushing" is a subset strategy of a "Fast Advance" deck.

Rushing the beginning to transition into your main strategy can be a very important subset of any deck, no matter what the main strategy is, as being close to 7 points means the runner needs to start making risky moves which will waste some of his resources giving final scoring windows. But I feel if there is a deck that can live without this, it is HBFA, because:
- it threatens to score out of nowhere, making the runner hurry anyway,
- it gains the most from getting rid from rush part, as cheap end the run ice completely doesn't fit into its main strategy of making centrals expensive to run and scoring out of hands.

I'm playing such HBFA deck. It uses Biotic Labor and Trick of Light to score without having a remote, it has no small ETR other that 3 Ice Walls (needed to power up ToL and used mainly to build small remotes to make the runner less willing to run Adonis/Eve/Jackson) and has lots of medium sized taxing ice (Eli, Hudson, Viktor 2, Heimdall 1, Viper, Shadow, Ichi 1) to make repeated central runs a real pain and buy time to get enough FA tricks in hand to finish the game. Plays very differently than other decks (probably due to lack of rush part) but it's quite efficient.
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Nords3x4 wrote:
Yes, that's a great thread to read by Sirprim! Thank you for adding the distinction between "rush" and fast advance. I think when referring to a deck type like HBFA(Haas-Bioroid Fast Advance) it's implied "rushing" is a subset strategy of a "Fast Advance" deck.


"Rush" just means scoring agendas from board, early on, through some kind of ETR.

"Fast advance" just means scoring agendas from hand.

Talking about rushing as a subset strategy of fast advance is kinda confusing. It's more like a tactic, I guess.
 
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Arvils Feldmanis
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i like this one. Helpful.
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Gareth G
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This is great, thank you!
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Beyer
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With experience I'm trying to avoid cards I'd only include in 1-ofs. Although this sounds really weird I can't shake the feeling that my 1-ofs never appear when I need them and if I try to come up with a coherent strategy that relies solely on musthaves and verynicetohaves my decks are much more focused.
 
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Ludovic Gauthier
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Stunke wrote:
With experience I'm trying to avoid cards I'd only include in 1-ofs. Although this sounds really weird I can't shake the feeling that my 1-ofs never appear when I need them and if I try to come up with a coherent strategy that relies solely on musthaves and verynicetohaves my decks are much more focused.

Tutors are the reason people get to play 1-of as a runner.
For corporations, it's a surprise motivated addition.
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Greg Nordeng
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NetEldrogo wrote:
Stunke wrote:
With experience I'm trying to avoid cards I'd only include in 1-ofs. Although this sounds really weird I can't shake the feeling that my 1-ofs never appear when I need them and if I try to come up with a coherent strategy that relies solely on musthaves and verynicetohaves my decks are much more focused.

Tutors are the reason people get to play 1-of as a runner.
For corporations, it's a surprise motivated addition.


Yes, this. 1 of's in a corp deck can be very effective. Let's say you play 1 Snare! and the runner DOES hit it. The best part is they will now have to respect that you might have more, and will run a little less aggressively against you.

But I will agree that is you are trying to really create a focused and predictable deck, running mostly 3 of's is a good idea.
 
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Richard Linnell
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Nords3x4 wrote:
NetEldrogo wrote:
Stunke wrote:
With experience I'm trying to avoid cards I'd only include in 1-ofs. Although this sounds really weird I can't shake the feeling that my 1-ofs never appear when I need them and if I try to come up with a coherent strategy that relies solely on musthaves and verynicetohaves my decks are much more focused.

Tutors are the reason people get to play 1-of as a runner.
For corporations, it's a surprise motivated addition.


Yes, this. 1 of's in a corp deck can be very effective. Let's say you play 1 Snare! and the runner DOES hit it. The best part is they will now have to respect that you might have more, and will run a little less aggressively against you.

But I will agree that is you are trying to really create a focused and predictable deck, running mostly 3 of's is a good idea.


Well, there's some advantage to running less than 3 of a card if you are running other cards that can fill the same niche. Especially true for Ambush assets, where running 1x Overwriter,1x Junebug, and 1x Secretary can be as effective as 3x any one of them on their own. Also, less than 3x can be good in a deck that uses a card primarily as deterrent - throwing in 1x Scorched, 1x Snare, 1x Trick of Light can help shape the runner's playstyle (if they see it), as they will then play around said card, even if you aren't planning on using it.

Although generally speaking 3x is the way to go.
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Quote:
1, 2 or 3 of a card...

3, if I want it early and or often. (Hedge Fund, cheap ICE that ends the run, Jackson Howard)

2, if it’s a card I want eventually, but maybe not immediately or often.(Wotan, Mellange Mining Corp, SEA Source)

1, if it's a card I can do without, but can be a game changer if I can activate it.(Edge of World, Corporate Troubleshooter, Janus)

This is a good guide to number of copies to include for cards that fill a unique role or are a lot better than other options. However, there are now many cards that are roughly interchangeable and the corp can get a moderate advantage at little cost by running smaller quantities of several similar cards.

Running 3x of all the cards you want to see often (such as cheap ETR), gives the runner more information basically for free. Some runners explicitely take advantage of that by running a variety of breakers and tutors.
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Vander Dlonk
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Nords3x4 wrote:
The runner installment will come in time as that is an even more intricate process.

Was there ever a runner installment? If so, I can't find it. Thanks.


 
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