Sunday, 15 September 2013

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

A few days ago I brought you some analysis from the mammoth pile of OCTGN results recently published, focussing on what those results had to tell us about the Corp Identities.  If you missed that then you can catch up HERE.  While a lot of the Corp findings were things that the dedicated Netrunner afficionado already knew there were a few interesting findings to pop up - the success of NBN: The World Is Yours for one, and the contentious evidence that Jinteki decks struggle to win if the opponent doesn't make a mistake.

Now it's the turn of the Runner Identities to pass under the microscope...

Right from the start, let's look at the top level numbers for the most popular runners.

There are no real surprises here at the top of the table, with the dominant Criminal Identity leading the way, although Noise is coming up close behind, being played in almost as many games.  The first interesting thing, given that there has been so much focus around the 'Runner-Corp imbalance' issues is that overall only three Runner identities have a winning record against the Corp!  In fact it's only the two Criminal IDs who are swinging the overall record to 51/49 in favour of the Runner, with both Gabriel Santiago and Andromeda pulling impressive 56/59% win rates.  The most surprising thing, then, is just how diverse the Runner identities are, given that there are two identities that demand to be played ahead of the others.

But isn't everyone talking about Atman/Datasucker?  If that's wrecking everyone then how come Shaper decks are only managing a 45% win rate?

Well, for the answer to that you have to look at just how complete the original data source from OCTGN actually was: it takes a long time to play over 100,000 games of Netrunner and the data went back into 2012 while Atman was only printed in Creation & Control a couple of months ago.  If you recut the data for games played in August/September 2013 (so during the period Creation & Control was widely used in OCTGN) you get a slightly different picture...

And, as if by magic, three winning Runner Identities become four as Kate McCaffrey jumps from #3 to #1 in most-played, and picks up a whopping 9% in her win rate, jumping from 45% to 54%.  That's the Atman Effect at work (along with the other juicy cards Shapers got in Creation & Control).

Another interesting change between the Creation & Control data and that from all time is the rise of Andromeda, who has overtaken Gabriel Santiago as the Criminal mastermind of choice for Runners.  What's particularly noteworthy here is that it makes Andromeda arguably the ONLY identity published since the Core set that was actually better than the Identities we get there.   Identities like Noise, Kate McCaffrey, Engineering the Future and Making News were the first we got to play with and they set the standard for what Identities can do for you.  Almost without exception the Identities printed in the data packs have been weaker and underplayed, the exception I alluded to being Andromeda.  Drawing 9 cards for your first turn is extremely powerful, particularly if you happen to have an Event you want to play on the first turn.  Say, an event that let you run at HQ to steal money?  Something like that would work well with Andromeda.

When I broken down the flow of Win/Loss records by ID for the Corps it threw up some good learnings - some Corps win early, other late and some are all about Flatlining.  It was worth doing so let's repeat that for the Runners...

I've lumped them all together like because, unlike the Corporations, what is most striking about the performance of the best Runner identities is how SIMILAR they are.  If you think back to the Corp decks we saw HUGE differences between how Haas-Bioroid and Jinteki were trying to win the game, and even big differences between the two NBN Identities, with The World Is Yours significantly faster than Making News.

By contrast the Runners are all very similar in so many ways.  You could argue that Kae McCaffrey is slightly slower out of the blocks than the other Runners, taking 8 or 9 turns to get up to speed, but by and large all the four best Runner decks are neither particularly strong early game, or particularly strong late game - pretty much right through the game they're all 55-60% to win the game once they've avoided getting flatlined in the first few runs.  That doesn't throw up much in the way of useful information for Runners/Corps to work with, but it does point to an interesting game design point about Netrunner, which is that it looks as though it's the Corps that are setting the pace of the game (can I get away with saying the Corps set the Agenda?), which is worth thinking about when most people would say that the Runner is the protagonist in the game by being the one on the 'offense'.

As we've seen in decks like HB Rush and NBN Fast Advance the concept of 'offense' in Netrunner isn't necessarily tied to the act of running, and this supports the idea that some Corps can go on the offensive, while the Runners are relatively reactive throughout.

Another similarity between all the runners - none of them are particularly vulnerable to flatlining.  I had expected Criminals to be more aggressive in running early, and thus more vulnerable to getting caught out early, but there's little evidence that it's resulting in more crispy-friend Criminals than there are Anarchs or Shapers.

Winners vs Winners

So all the Runners are the same.  That's the amazing analysis I'm providing?  Well I'd argue that it's sometimes interesting to find out that it's boring, but I don't want to leave you like that so here's another level.  This is the results when Corp Players who won more than 55% of games since Creation & Control arrived in OCTGN played against Runner Player who had won more than 55% of games.

Statistically both groups are winning more than 50/50, so we're honing in on the above-average players to see if anything changes for them.  One side has to come off second-best in these matches, though - does the Corp hold an edge when good players meet, or does the Runner widen the gap?

Damnit, it's the same again.  When you look at EVERY game EVER on OCTGN, the Runner won 51% of them.  When you look at games just in Creation and Control it's 52%, and when you look at just the above-average players in Creation & Control it's STILL 51%.

At least that's consistent, right?

But there are some interesting changes in the league table that are worth noting (the sample size is much smaller now, so these results are less reliable so bear that in mind):

  • Kate McCaffrey is #1 among all players during Creation & Control, but Andromeda is most popular among the above-average players, with Kate only coming third.
  • Andromeda is played twice as often as Gabriel Santiago by the better Runner players, but actually has a worse win record against the better Corp players.
  • Chaos Theory and Whizzard have both posted 50% win rates when handled by above-average players.  Whizzard was close on 49% when played by all players, but Chaos Theory jumps several % points when piloted by stronger players.
The final piece of the jigsaw is matchups - does a particular runner have an easier time against a particular Corp?  Again, this is based on matches since Creation & Control, and between players who have gone 55% or better with their Runner/Corp decks in that time...

The number that leaps out there is that The World Is Yours posted a 65% win rate against Gabriel Santiago!  The sample size there is only 43 games between the two Identities so it's not an exhaustive sample, but it's definitely an eyebrow raiser.  That the same Gabriel Santiago beat Making News 72% of the time is either a fantastic insight into the respective strengths of the two NBN decks or, quite possibly, a statistical fluke from the small sample size.

I'm reluctant to draw too many conclusions from this data, but it suggests...
  • Andromeda is weak against NBN: Making News (early running opens her up to SEA/Scorch?) but particularly strong against Haas-Bioroid: Engineering the Future
  • Kate McCaffrey is strong against Jinteki and NBN.  Possible her slower start makes her less likely to hit unfortunate Chum/Katana tricks, and she has the easiest access to Deus X when she needs it.
  • Jinteki only likes playing against Noise and Andromeda.  That doesn't make too much sense to me, as Andromeda's starting hand size should help against Snare!

That ends my look at the Runner identities,and I hope you've learnt as much from reading it as I got from slicing/dicing the data to write it.  I'm going to give my Excel pivot tables and break for a week or so, but may revisit the OCTGN data to pull out other pieces of juicy gossip - deck size vs win rate, for instance.

Until then: good running, and may the Snowflake be ever in your favor!