Thursday, 12 September 2013

Psychographics // 100,000+ OCTGN Games Analysed // Corp Analysis

If you aren't aware of the excellent virtual tabletop for playing Netrunner online, OCTGN, then allow me to be the one to introduce you - I think you're going to get on famously.  Thousands of players play thousands of games online, using it as a perfect testing ground for new deck ideas and strategies, and today the developers of the Android: Netrunner game files for the OCTGN platform released a mammoth store of data - the results from the last 100,000+ games of Netrunner played on OCTGN!

100,000+ games.  That's a lot of data.

Being a man who likes his spreadsheets and graphs and charts I rolled up my sleeves and went data mining.  I'm going to return the results in two or three parts, starting with some insights for Corp players.

First, for those who care, I did a little bit to scrub the data for less competitive decks and results to cut to the core of data from decks that were legal.  Results were cut from games where decks were:
  • Influence was 0 (so likely playing Core set only)
  • Influence was higher than the Identity could legally play
  • Decks were smaller than the Identity could legally play
  • Decks were more 10+ cards bigger than the identity could legally play
That still left just under 100,000 games to analyse, which is plenty of data to draw some conclusions.  With that out of the way, it's time to report back to the Board of Directors on my findings...

This is the top level of data, looking at all the Identities that were played, ranked in order of popularity.  The data here is Games Played - Won and Lost - and the Win %.  The Loser Score is how close the game was, on average, measuring how many Agenda Points the losing side scored.  The Game Length is a measure of how long the games were with that Identity, in games where the Corp Won or Lost.

On the subject of Game Length it's normal for the Corp's Winning Turns to be larger than number of turns where the Corp lost.  The Corp always goes first and almost always wins on it's own turn, whereas it will virtually always lose on the Runner's turn (you can see this is different for Jinteki, which usually flatlines the runner on their own turn).  If you deduct the extra turn in which the Corp sealed the win you can see the real strength/weakness of the Identity in terms of where it holds an edge over the Runner.

There's a few things to pull out here.  First of all let's focus right at that bottom number - the Corporation has won 49% of the games in our sample size, as close to a 50/50 split as it's really possible to get and a sign that the game currently appears to be quite well balanced between the two sides.  It's important to note that this is based on results across ALL skill bands of players - the OCTGN data doesn't allow us to identify the best players or worst players and focus on their results.  It could be that among the elite players one side has a bigger advantage, but from this sample the game appears very evenly balanced.

Secondly it's immediately clear that there's four Corp Identities that are vastly more popular than the others.

Four Corp Identities are over 75% of all the games played, indicating there are clear favourites.  So far so obvious - you probably know they're popular because they're the ones you're playing yourself!  There is something interesting, though - although there are only four popular identities there are actually FIVE that are winning a much higher percentage of games than the others.  The missing identity is the second NBN Identity, The World Is Yours, which is one of only three Corp identities to record better than a 50% win rate!

If you want to win a Corp game of Netrunner your chances are VASTLY improved if you are playing one of these five Identities.

There's another layer to this though.  Corporations have two ways to win a game of Netrunner - you can score 7 Agenda Points or you can Flatline the runner by dealing damage to them.  If you strip out the games where the Corp won by Flatlining then a very stark picture emerges...

Only ONE Corp Identity has a 50/50 chance of winning by scoring 7 Agenda points - Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future.  The young upstart NBN: The World Is Yours has a relatively healthy 44% record, but by and large scoring Agendas is not the best way for your Corp deck to try and win the game.

Let's focus on the top five Corp Identities and see how different they are.

Take a look at the Flatline % and it reveals some huge differences between the best Corp decks, and that's something that Runners need to pay attention to as well.

Engineering The Future
With only 9% of their wins coming from Flatlining the most popular Corp identity is clearly interested in winning via Agenda Points (AP).  With that in mind it's a good job that they're the only Identity that has a 50% chance of winning by AP.  If you look at the games where the Corp wins they tend to be longer than the games they lost, and among the top five Corps that makes Engineering The Future pretty much unique.

This graph shows the results of games where Engineering The Future was the Corp identity, divided over games of length 1-30 turns at the bottom.  The orange bars you can't really see are games won by Flatline, the red bars are games won by AP, and the blue bars are games lost. the purple line is the Win Ratio for the Corp.  As you can see the Corp's win ratio in the early game is pretty terrible, but as the game goes on EtF's chances of winning the game get better and better - if EtF can make it through the first 10 turns it's actually >50/50 to win the game.

As we'll see, that's an unusual situation for a Corp...

Making News and The World Is Yours

The two NBN Identities are very similar in many ways, but have some notable differences as well.  Similarities first - about 25% of their wins come from Flatlining, which fits with the Corp that makes tagging the runner it's speciality.  More similarities, as well as carrying a Flatline threat, both the NBN identities have a >40% chance of winning on Agenda points as well - the best record outside of Haas-Bioroid.  

A final similarity is that the two NBN decks are pretty consistent over any length of game - they're not as weak as Haas-Bioroid in the early game because of the flatlining threat, but don't have any particular strength in the late game either.

The main difference between the two Identities is just how quick The World Is Yours is!  With Flatline wins coming in at 8.9 turns on average and Agenda wins at 14.2 turns the second NBN identity is significantly faster than its older brother (12.1 and 17.3 turns, respectively).  Being tuned down to a 40 card deck makes The World Is Yours much more consistent at pulling together a strong early game then taking advantage of that with either a Scorched Earth or Psychographics strategy to end the game quickly.  That speed is what makes The World Is Yours the Ferrari of the Corporate world. 

Building A Better World
The Weyland identity is the first of two Corps whose main route to victory is flatlining the runner, although in Weyland's case it's only just over half of the Corp's wins and Weyland can still win with Agenda points just over a third of the time.

One big difference from the other Corp identities we've looked at so far is that Weyland's chance of winning the game declines throughout the game - where Haas-Bioroid has a 60% chance of winning a long game, Weyland is on the wrong end of a 40% chance.

Personal Evolution
If Haas-Bioroid is all about scoring Agendas, then Jinteki seems to see Agendas as a mere distraction to it's game plan.  A whopping 75% of ALL Personal Evolution wins came from Flatlining the runner.  SIZZLE!

The flipside from that great stat is a terrible one: you've only got a 19% chance of winning a game where you don't flatline the runner.  Jinteki players should read that and weep.  19% is horrible odds.

The win ratio in Jinteki is very telling.  In the early game you've got a good chance of the runner screwing up and walking into a Chum/Neural Katana/Snare combination and putting himself into the ground.  But with each turn that goes by the Jinteki player is less and less likely to win the game.  As the runner sets up his breakers and finds his Deus X the chances of flatlining slip away, and there's simply no Agenda scoring plan to step up and take its place.

This is critical information if you're running against Jinteki.  Avoiding defeat is largely in your hands - don't run when you don't have to, or when it's dangerous to do so, and you largely neuter the Jinteki threat.  Remember runners, always practice safe running!


EDIT: It was suggested I was being unfair on Jinteki by claiming their wins were primarily down to runner mistakes.  The argument was that Jinteki wins by flatline when it's close to winning on Agenda Points and is able to force the runner into making bad runs and exposing themselves to flatlining.  

To check this I switched the Game Flow graph around to look at the number of Agenda Points scored by the Corp when the game ended.  If most of the Jinteki wins came when the Corp had 4-6 Agenda Points then it would support the view that Personal Evolution is able to force flatline wins, rather than relying on unforced errors from the runner.

That appears to support the original analysis that Personal Evolution relies on unforced errors.  By far the most Flatline kills come early in the game, long before the Jinteki player is close to winning on Agenda points.

It's worth repeating that this sample is for ALL Personal Evolution decks.  Some decks may be better at forcing errors from the runner on 4/5 Agenda Points.  It may be different among the best players, with less experienced players skewing results towards 'lucky' wins early in the game.  But overall the result is clear - Jinteki primarily wins from unforced runner error.


One Last Nugget...

This one is very obvious, but also very clear.  Influence helps you win games.  There is a direct relationship between the amount of Influence in your deck and your win ratio.  Well, duh.  But here's a graph I made to show the bleeding obvious...

Summing Up

What this data does is help you to understand where the pitfalls in the Corp strategy is.  It might be interesting to develop a Stronger Together deck that tries to win by building big data forts to score big Agendas, but you should be aware that you're going against the flow.

Your chances of winning are increased when you play one of five Identities, and usually when you're NOT focussed solely on scoring Agendas, because only one Corp Identity has a 50/50 chance of winning with Agendas.

So does that mean you can't try something new?  Hell no.  What we're seeing here is data filtered very broadly - only to Identity level.  We don't know, from this data, that there isn't a subset of Personal Evolution decks that have a 70% chance of winning by Agendas.  We don't know that you won't find one tomorrow.  But we do know that, overall, scoring Agendas is something that Jinteki is VERY bad at.  That's something you really need to know when you're building your Corp deck, and it's also something you need to know when you're playing against that identity.

I'll be back in the next day or two with a similar look at the other side of the coin - what the OCTGN data tells us about Runner decks.

Many thanks to DbZer0 and the folks at OCTGN for making all this juicy gossip available.


  1. >the developers of OCTGN

    FYI, I'm not an OCTGN developer. I'm a game developer for ANR (and others) on OCTGN. The OCTGN devs are those who program the actual OCTGN client/engine itself, while I program just the games for it.

  2. Sorry about that, I'll correct the top paragraph.