Thursday, 7 May 2015

Just when I thought I was out... they pull me back in.

I've a confession to make: I've fallen off the wagon.

After more than a year since I swore off Netrunner I am back advancing agendas and trashing assets.  Perhaps, deep down, this was always going to happen, after all I never did really try that hard to sell my cards - I just left them on a shelf gathering dust, but ready to be recalled if need be.

Last monday I went to a new board games club, and before the games start they tend to play a few games of Netrunner while they wait for people to turn up.  They had three players, so I jumped in and played a game with one of their decks, managing to score the winning agenda on my last click before he scored it and won the game.  I remembered why I liked Netrunner.

On Tuesday I bought Order & Chaos and logged back into NetrunnerDB.

On Wednesday I sat on the floor of my spare room surrounded by Netrunner cards, building decks.

On Thursday I pestered the local Netrunner players to come to the shop and play Netrunner.

I didn't so much fall off the wagon as take a flying leap from it.

Joe always took playing 'Tag n Bag' a little too seriously

You Know Nothing, Jon Snow

I have a lot to catch up on, pretty much the equivalent of two full cycles as I missed Honor & Profit as well as all the data packs since then, which I'm gradually picking up as I get up to speed.  My starting point has been trying to use Order & Chaos cards, as that's the big box I started with.  This has proven quite easy for Anarch - I took one look at Maxx and realised her ability was awesome, read Eater, read Keyhole, read Eater again, read Account Siphon, read Eater again, then made a deck.  It turned out I was about 5 cards off the Maxx decks that were big a couple of months ago (I didn't have Joshua B or Wanton Destruction).

For Weyland building a deck to use Order & Chaos was more challenging, which it turns out reflects Weyland's new (to me) position as the whipping boy of the Corporations.  I missed the Government Takeover/Punitive Counterstrike interaction so dismissed that Agenda, built a shell game Gagarin deck that I didn't like, realised Housekeeping was nuts and tried to go dedicated Tag n Bag, then finally it all morphed into an update of an old Weyland deck that I had previously blogged about: Great Wall of Weyland, incorporating the 'constellation' Ice of Wormhole, Asteroid Belt and Orion.

So far Ive enjoyed dipping my toes back into the Netrunner waters.  Compared to when I left it feels like things have really changed, with Criminals relegated somewhat, Fast Advance not quite so prevalent (with the recent addition of Clot in particular), and Replicating Perfection finally maturing to full power.  I think it's also key that Anarchs finally got some draw power with Inject and I've Had Worse, which was always that factions biggest weakness.  Coming to opinions like that hasn't been immediate and there's still many cards from Lunar Cycle that I've never even seen, but most people I speak to don't realise just how little I know about Netrunner at the moment, which has led to some pretty amusing conversations...

Them: "I was playing Near Earth Hub for a long time but since Clot got printed I'm not sure how good it is so I've built an RP deck with the Grail Ice instead.  But now that Stealth Andy is being replaced by Prepaid Kate do you think I should be dropping the Grails?"

Me: "Well I know that RP is Replicating Perfection, but what's Near Earth Hub, Clot, Grail Ice, Stealth Andy or Prepaid Kate?"


Them: "You're playing Weyland without Crisium Grid, eh?  Do you feel that the meta is swinging away from needing Crisium Grid so much now that Keyhole Anarch is less common?"

Me: "What's Crisium Grid?"

Know Thy Enemy

I'll get there eventually, and hopefully I will be able to bring some of you along with me for the ride.  Netrunner is a game where understanding the metagame is vital - to know what Ice/Icebreakers to use you need to know what Icebreakers/Ice everyone else is using. To know whether to run a remote server you need to know which Assets/Upgrades/Agendas are in fashion.

To be successful at Netrunner you need to do your homework, and with that in mind I'm going to begin a series of looking at successful decks of various archetypes by finding a selection of decklists and analysing the similarities and differences between the decks.  What is considered essential, and what is open to be changed?  How have decks changed since SanSan Cycle began?  If you want to play Card A then which card does it usually replace?  I did something similar to that for Andromeda after the 2013 World Championships (which, ultimately, was the article I wrote that convinced me to play Andromeda for the next four months) and I know people found that helpful, so hopefully I'll be able to come up with something good on the current crop of decks.

First up in this series of articles will be Replicating Perfection, and if you've any archetypes that you would like me to focus on then please put it in the comments, and the ones that catch my interest will be added to the list.

Until then I will leave you with the Weyland deck I made, which I briefly mentioned above.  It's not a world beater but it works, and it makes use of one of the most ignored identities in the game: Because We Built It.

Great Wall of Weyland: Stargazer Edition
(based on an old deck discussed here)

Weyland: Because We Built It

Agendas (11)
2x Hostile Takeover
2x Firmware Upgrades
3x Project Atlas
2x Geothermal Fracking
2x Priority Requisition

Assets (6)
2x GRNDL Refinery
2x Thomas Haas
2x Jackson Howard

Upgrades (2)
1x Red Herrings
1x Crisium Grid

Operations (13)
3x Beanstalk Royalties
2x Commercialisation
3x Trick of Light
2x Shipment From Kaguya
3x Hedge Fund

Ice - Barriers (6)
3x Ice Wall
3x Hadrian's Wall

Ice - Code Gates (4)
2x Quandary
2x Wormhole

Ice - Sentries (5)
3x Caduceus
2x Archer

Ice - Other (2)
2x Orion

Summary: Advance Ice, Commercalise, Trick of Light: Profit!  The most recent additions were twofold to increase the taxation effect - dropping Fire Wall for Hadrian's Wall (if you’re going to tax the runner, tax the runner) and finding room for Red Herrings.  These two changes were both funded by including GRNDL Refinery over a Thomas Haas and a Jackson Howard, with GRNDL Refinery giving me money to rez Hadrian's Wall and freeing up influence to include a Red Herrings.

Compared to the original Great Wall of Weyland the constellation Ice adds a new layer of threat for the opponent to consider when you've facedown advanced Ice and also beefs up the BWBI ability.  Each free advancement counter you place can now save as much you 3 credits, which makes the ability much more effective.  The Ice is big, threatening to programs, ends runs, and doesn't cost the earth to rez... all good things for Ice to be.

It is top tier?  Probably not - it's effective but far too linear with not enough surprises for the Runner to deal with.  But it definitely works well enough to score Agendas and win some games and it's an excuse to use BWBI, so if you like it then have a go and let me know how you got on!