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Subject: Deck building: Suggestions based on browsing through recent NRDB lists rss

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El-ad David Amir
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I've been browsing the latest published decks on NetrunnerDB.com lately, utilizing the wonderful commenting interface to offer ideas and suggestions on improving various decks. While doing so, I noticed several deck-building trends that appear on a regular basis and are oftentimes misguided:

(Note: I'm going to use some examples from NetrunnerDB. These are just decks that I happened to stumble upon. I tried to include some of the decisions I made and came to regret as well. Deck building is hard!)

Low emphasis on economy. You officially win the game when you reach seven agenda points - and credits are the road that leads you there. I was surprised to see that many players choose not to include three copies of Sure Gamble or Hedge Fund in their decks. These cards are staples - while there are builds that might avoid them (such as Nasir Meidan or some Near-Earth Hub builds), these are exceptions; you should almost always have three copies. Generally speaking, you usually want nine to twelve economy cards. Additionally, these are often a mix between recurring or drip economy (such as Kati Jones or Adonis Campaign) and burst events/operations such as Lucky Find and Restructure. Also, three of the Corp factions have signature economy cards that you want to keep in mind: Sweeps Week for NBN, Celebrity Gift for Jinteki, and Adonis Campaign for Haas-Bioroid.

Sticking to the core plan. Your deck should do one or two things, and do it well. There are very few decks that manage to pursue three different courses of victory consistently (they exist - I faced an amazing Toybox/Fast Advance/NEXT Ice deck in Worlds - they're just rare). If you have five cool ideas, build five cool decks, then find the 1-2 that work best and combine them together. Examples include low-econ decks that try to utilize expensive ice, a Midseason deck that includes four different tag punishment avenues (but no focus on any of them), a Glacier deck with 11-12 cool agendas, or a Shoot the Moon deck that had no big ice to rez. I tested a Replicating Perfection glacier deck with a whole slew of randomness in it (Executive Boot Camp, Snare!, an Eden Fragment that I could not defend properly) and ended up chucking the whole thing. I also have a tendency to randomly throw Power Shutdown into builds that don't really need it. Decide on your gameplan and make sure every card advances you toward it.

Anti-synergies. The ideal deck where every pair of cards are greater than the sum of their parts does not exist, of course. However, you should aim to minimize conflicting interactions where one card directly opposes another. Some examples: an Account Siphon recursion deck that relies on Wyldside and expensive resources, a GRNDL deck that spends its paltry influence on Grail ice, or a Glacier deck that makes the runner's life easier due to Medical Research Fundraiser. To give an example from one of the early drafts I built, I put in Astrolabe and Spinal Modem, completely missing the fact that they're both Consoles.

Limited usage. These are cards (or combinations of cards) that contribute little to your victory. A (very!) common example is putting Cerebral Overwriter as an ambush but having no damage followup. Brain damage (even two or three brain damage) barely affects the runner unless you're dedicated to flatlining him or her. You're often better off with Aggressive Secretary. Another possibility is combos where one component does nothing on its own (and oftentimes the combination itself is not that spectacular), such as an Anarch deck that had three copies of Progenitor but almost no other viruses, or a deck with Aesop's Pawnshop but only two or three good trash targets. One last repeating example is Criminal decks with The Supplier and just a few hardware and resources to play with it.

Relying on best-case scenarios. Netrunner has many cards that could lead to spectacular results in the right situation. Oftentimes, however, the requiremnts that lead to the magical outcome are narrow and/or difficult to achieve. When building the deck, try to imagine average- and worst-case scenarios. More importantly, when playing the deck, don't track just the cool stuff - it's easy to remember the one game where Edge of World lead to four brain damage while ignoring the seven games where it sat in your hand. A card that often sits in this category is Hemorrhage, which is potentially great but oftentimes is too expensive (credit-wise and click-wise) for its limited effect, and is mostly obsoleted by Utopia Shard and Wanton Destruction. Paintbrush also works that way often, unfortunately - I tried it in my Shaper deck, imagining the fun of breaking Archer and Grim for cheap, but between the MU and rez requirement it ended up being a dud. Another common example is relying on scoring one or more agendas as a prerequisite for fulfilling the purpose of the deck - if you need an Efficiency Committee and a Project Vitruvius with two counters on it to win, you're probably in trouble.

Ambushes. Ambushes (and, more specifically, advanceable ambushes that only trigger their effect while installed) belong to the previous category, but they crop up so often that they deserve a few words of their own. Here are the things to remember. One, ambushes rarely win the game on their own. I gave Cerebral Overwriter as an example, but Project Junebug, Ghost Branch, and the others also fall in this category - oftentimes the runner can recover from them very quickly. If you include them, you need a follow-up. Two, triggering them is hard. With all due respect to the "mind games" mantra of a notable Netrunner designer, your opponent will often notice something is suspicious when you install-advance-advance in a porous remote. Three, ambushes are a significant burden on your centrals. Players often blame bad luck when the runner steals an agenda from their R&D or HQ. However, if your centrals have many low-trash assets, the runner will get more accesses - so it's possible that that "bad luck" is just a decision you made during deck building. All of the above is not to say that you should avoid ambushes entirely, just that you should limit their usage and remember their limitations.

(General note, I cannot stress how much of a liability low-trash assets are. I suspect that's one of the reasons Melange Mining Corporatoin barely see play, and why ASH is so much better than Red Herrings. I don't have the number in front of me, but if I recall correctly, in simulation having three copies of MMC in your deck reduced the number of turns the runner needed to win from 17 to 14 - Captain Frisk can talk more about that.)

Influence usage. Influence is extremely precious in Netrunner. Generally, runners have fifteen influence, NBN has fifteen influence, and non-NBN corps have twelve influence (since you want to include three copies of Jackson Howard). This means that you should reserve that influence for cards that cover bases your faction (or neutral cards) simply cannot reach. Ice is a great example - some of the best ice in the game (such as Tollbooth, Eli 1.0, and Archer) is faction-specific. Multi-access in runner is another; Criminal cannot multi-access R&D, Shaper cannot multi-access HQ, and Anarch's multi-access is not as straightforward as the other two, so you might want to splash that. Examples of weak influence usage include Inject in Exile (Diesel, Quality Time, and/or Professional Contacts will reach similar results and give you more control over your discard) and Mental Health Clinic in NBN (where PAD Campaign, Marked Accounts, and Daily Business Show are all similar choices that save the influence).

Ice and icebreaker mix. These two issues are different sides of the same coin:

As Corp, you want to diversify your ice: different ice types, different costs, different strengths, and with both punishing and end-the-run subroutines. Such an ice mix means that the runner needs to come up with many different solutions. For example, I see a lot of Blue Sun builds that rely on big Barriers and very few other pieces of Ice and lose to "Lady" or D4v1d (especially when Oversight AI is a major economy source). Positional ice is another culprit - setting it up is challenging and it's susceptible to Parasite (and sometimes Femme Fatale), so a deck with 2x Chum and 2x Inazuma will often end up with no defenses. As more cards come out, I notice that my ice mix relies more and more on one-ofs to break the runner's flow.

As Runner, you want to diversity your solutions. The best decks have many avenues for cracking the Corp's data forts: Katman is a Shaper Kate deck that relies on Atman and Datasuckers to pay only for breaking subroutines (not for increasing strength). Despite the eponym, Katman also has Parasite, Femme Fatale, "Lady" or Inti, and often Deus X and Sharpshooter. Examples of decks that had little variety are a Quetzal deck that had no solution to Barriers other than the ID ability, or an Andy deck with 3x Overmind, 3x Parasite, and no other programs. Again going back to my experience, I had a Quetzal deck with no Decoder (I trusted Parasite and Knight to get me through Code Gates) and lost a game to a Blue Sun player who shifted his two Enigmas around.

Set up a variety of challenges as the Corp and make sure you can address that variety as Runner.

One final word, the above are not rules - heck, they're not even guidelines. These are just my observations and they should not stop you from experimenting with new ideas. Try to keep them in mind when building and tuning your deck. You might want to revisit them if a build you've been testing for a while does not perform as well as you'd want it to. Deck building is an amazing part of Netrunner that involves balancing and incorporating many separate components. I hope this post helps you reach the right mix.
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Cedric Bertolini
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Awesome post. I wish it could be stickied or something. Thanks a lot!
 
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Patrick Jamet
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Another great contribution, El-ad. Thank you !
 
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D. R.
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Alsciende wrote:
Awesome post. I wish it could be stickied or something. Thanks a lot!


How about you add a new tab on netrunnerdb called "Guide(s)" and put El-Ad's and similar authors guides up there ? Since people already discuss decks on the website, would be great if it included reading material aswell.
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General Norris
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I had the same thoughs as you, I even recognize the decks you mention. So yeah, good stuff
 
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Derrick Billings
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IirionClaus wrote:
Players often blame bad luck when the runner steals an agenda from their R&D or HQ. However, if your centrals have many low-trash assets, the runner will get more accesses - so it's possible that that "bad luck" is just a decision you made during deck building...I cannot stress how much of a liability low-trash assets are. I suspect that's one of the reasons Melange Mining Corporation barely sees play, and why ASH is so much better than Red Herrings. I don't have the number in front of me, but if I recall correctly, in simulation having three copies of MMC in your deck reduced the number of turns the runner needed to win from 17 to 14 - Captain Frisk can talk more about that.)


Ever have one of those moments where the clouds part and the sun shines down?

And my mind INSTANTLY goes to Genomics Institute and what a freaking monster I think that's going to be. I tested a deck and made a friend pay $8 to trash a Snare that Kitsune showed him, just so as not to immediately hit it again when he got into HQ.
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Grimwalker wrote:
Ever have one of those moments where the clouds part and the sun shines down?

And my mind INSTANTLY goes to Genomics Institute and what a freaking monster I think that's going to be. I tested a deck and made a friend pay $8 to trash a Snare that Kitsune showed him, just so as not to immediately hit it again when he got into HQ.

That's the direction I'm thinking about for IG Glacier. Several low-cost econ such as Caprice and Sundew - IG will protect them.
 
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Sebastian Zarzycki
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Awesome post, thanks!

If I could only add one thing to this - when you build a deck that looks solid, test it, like immediately. Sometimes you might think that it would play reliably, but certain interactions and opportunities reveal itself only during the play. The card/interaction you felt was going to be awesome falls flat. The card that was meh on the paper turned out to be very good during the play. And above everything else - you have to learn some sort of ability to figure our, whether your decks performs good/poor in general, or is it just because you're playing unfavorable matchup. The latter is sometimes a culprit for forfeited ideas, even if they were solid from the start. Test against different decks.
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talism emrys
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IirionClaus wrote:
Grimwalker wrote:
Ever have one of those moments where the clouds part and the sun shines down?

And my mind INSTANTLY goes to Genomics Institute and what a freaking monster I think that's going to be. I tested a deck and made a friend pay $8 to trash a Snare that Kitsune showed him, just so as not to immediately hit it again when he got into HQ.

That's the direction I'm thinking about for IG Glacier. Several low-cost econ such as Caprice and Sundew - IG will protect them.


enjoyed the read, the only thing i would add, is make sure you test your deck a bunch before you make changes so you can get a proper read on how its playing. (well unless it is so bad its a start from scratch)

Also in the IG deck,

Quote:
Hudson 1.0
ICE: Code Gate - Bioroid • Rez: 3 • Strength: 5 • Influence: 1
The Runner may spend to break any subroutine on Hudson 1.0.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
I'm not here to play games. The game is over.
Haas-Bioroid • Mala Tempora #51


might be a auto include over archives
 
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Captain Frisk
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talism wrote:

Quote:
Hudson 1.0
ICE: Code Gate - Bioroid • Rez: 3 • Strength: 5 • Influence: 1
The Runner may spend to break any subroutine on Hudson 1.0.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
I'm not here to play games. The game is over.
Haas-Bioroid • Mala Tempora #51


might be a auto include over archives


Doesn't work, even if you block the access, the cards will still be flipped . In fact, it weakens the threat of shocks and shi-kyus
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El-ad David Amir
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Captain_Frisk wrote:
Doesn't work, even if you block the access, the cards will still be installed. In fact, it weakens the threat of shocks and shi-kyus

I think you meant to say flipped, not installed. If runner accesses archives, even if it's 0 cards, everything is flipped.
 
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Daine .

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I, for one, won't rest until NRDB is only full of Spikes who post optimal decklists. Hedge funds for all.
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Andrew Brown
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Top thread.

I also can't believe how much I'm seeing inject with Exile. I can see how its an obvious combo, but the thing is, Exile makes Inject a better card, not the other way around. It doesn't ultimately do anything for him that he couldn't already do already with in faction options. Influence is better spent elsewhere imo
 
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Ben Michels
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That was an excellent read. Thank you for your insights.
 
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talism emrys
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Captain_Frisk wrote:
talism wrote:

Quote:
Hudson 1.0
ICE: Code Gate - Bioroid • Rez: 3 • Strength: 5 • Influence: 1
The Runner may spend to break any subroutine on Hudson 1.0.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
The Runner cannot access more than 1 card during this run.
I'm not here to play games. The game is over.
Haas-Bioroid • Mala Tempora #51


might be a auto include over archives


Doesn't work, even if you block the access, the cards will still be flipped . In fact, it weakens the threat of shocks and shi-kyus


oh snap, well that ruins that idea, back to the drawing board
 
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El-ad David Amir
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Daine wrote:
I, for one, won't rest until NRDB is only full of Spikes who post optimal decklists. Hedge funds for all.

People have a really cool idea for a deck - they want it to work. Our group has several players with neat ideas, and they're frustrated when their execution falls flat. The trick is to do something fun, but do it well so you can actually see it work.
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General Norris
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Yeah, I think that's very unfair Daine. He's simply lending a hand so people can build decks that actually work, not forcing anyone to go ultracompetitive.

You can have a fun concept and build it well or have a fun concept that isn't fun because it doesn't work and the build is junk.
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Daine .

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General_Norris wrote:
Yeah, I think that's very unfair Daine. He's simply lending a hand so people can build decks that actually work, not forcing anyone to go ultracompetitive.

You can have a fun concept and build it well or have a fun concept that isn't fun because it doesn't work and the build is junk.


Don't take it so seriously. I liked and tipped the OP, and I actually think it's quite good advice for newer players. Further, I appreciate that he didn't name it "The Deck[building Guide]."

I do think that "always have 3 hedge funds/sure gambles in your deck" is not a rule worth teaching, but that's a different point. NRDB isn't really the dataset to mine if looking for good decks (unless you want to play Fucking Gong Show. That deck is legit), nor is it probably the best index for what the meta is. Still, for anybody posting those decks and thinking they're good, the OP's advice would certainly help.
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John Fanjoy
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IirionClaus wrote:
if I recall correctly, in simulation having three copies of MMC in your deck reduced the number of turns the runner needed to win from 17 to 14 - Captain Frisk can talk more about that.)

This seems insane. Each copy of a 1-trash-cost card in your deck makes the runner win one turn faster? That can't be right. Especially this particular card, which is such a massive economy boost. I could maybe see 0-cost cards like Ghost Branch being almost that bad, since they often are just a waste of the corp's time and money when drawn, but MMC?
 
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General Norris
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I think people really overstate being able to trash cards from R&D. The issue is that you might not draw a Caprice, not that the Runner will run twice through your Ichis to access cards faster
 
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Captain Frisk
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CitizenFry wrote:
IirionClaus wrote:
if I recall correctly, in simulation having three copies of MMC in your deck reduced the number of turns the runner needed to win from 17 to 14 - Captain Frisk can talk more about that.)

This seems insane. Each copy of a 1-trash-cost card in your deck makes the runner win one turn faster? That can't be right. Especially this particular card, which is such a massive economy boost. I could maybe see 0-cost cards like Ghost Branch being almost that bad, since they often are just a waste of the corp's time and money when drawn, but MMC?


http://boardgamegeek.com/article/14629446#14629446

Here is what I posted previously. Basically, an untrashable card forces the runner to sit for a turn. While you need ~17 accesses on average no matter what, you get them much faster when you can clear them out of hq/r&d

The work with melange wasn't included in this table, let me see if I can dig it up
 
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El-ad David Amir
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CitizenFry wrote:
This seems insane. Each copy of a 1-trash-cost card in your deck makes the runner win one turn faster? That can't be right. Especially this particular card, which is such a massive economy boost. I could maybe see 0-cost cards like Ghost Branch being almost that bad, since they often are just a waste of the corp's time and money when drawn, but MMC?

You're right, going from 17 to 14 seems a bit too much. It definitely reduced the number of turns needed, but I must have gotten the number wrong. Hopefully Frisk can dig the numbers. It was large enough that I learned to reassess the inclusion of low-trash cost assets, and 3/1 agendas (and Domestic Sleepers). Furthermore the analysis did not look at multiple accesses. I had several games with RP Glacier where the runner hit R&D with Interface, trashes Caprice and Sundew, then runs again.
 
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I'm curious if others think it is possible to build seven strong decklists (one for each faction) that could all be built at the same time using one copy of the core and one copy of each expansion. I put up a thread about this in the general forum, and I've got my three runner decks built (though they need further testing), but the corp decks are problematic. Do you think the card pool is large enough to support different deck types that rely on entirely different card sets? Jackson Howard is strong. Can a corp deck get away with not running him?
 
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El-ad David Amir
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xophnog wrote:
I'm curious if others think it is possible to build seven strong decklists (one for each faction) that could all be built at the same time using one copy of the core and one copy of each expansion. I put up a thread about this in the general forum, and I've got my three runner decks built (though they need further testing), but the corp decks are problematic. Do you think the card pool is large enough to support different deck types that rely on entirely different card sets? Jackson Howard is strong. Can a corp deck get away with not running him?

Define "strong".
 
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Daine .

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The corp will quickly run into one of two major problems:

1) the lack of certain cards will make the decks that lose out much, much weaker. Whichever faction is short on Eli will be worse than it could have been. The decks without jackson will be very susceptibile to Noise and bad draws. And all the factions are likely to be severely short on money.

2) anyone who knows about your experiment will have a huge advantage when playing against you. If they saw your rototurrets in the last game, they now know that they don't have to expect them now that you've swapped decks. This fact will only exacerbate the first problem.

I realize it's a pain in the butt to swap cards between decks or make enough proxies to make multiple decks, but I think it's the much better option, all things considered. This game can be hard enough to balance without tying one hand behind your back.

I'd recommend you get enough sleeves that you can keep all the corp cards in one kind of sleeve. That way when you need to transfer your Jacksons to the next deck you're playing you don't have to unsleeve and resleeve before your next game.
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