Now that we’re a reasonable way into the Core2 / Rotation / Banlist meta, I thought I’d write an article about AgInfusion. Ever since the ID came out, I’ve found it intriguing. The ability is unlike any seen before, and forces both players to play differently. The 17 influence allows a lot of creativity in the deck-building process, whether by splashing assets and operations, or putting together an ice-suite that suite your deck perfectly. With runner economy now more sensible than before the meta shift, and Employee Strike less ubiquitous, AgInfusion is well placed to shine.
AgInfusion – the ID Ability
So let’s take it from the start. What does this ID bring us? When the Runner approaches an unrezzed piece of ice, AgInfusion allows you, once per turn, to trash it instead of rezzing it, to send the Runner to a different server. While consistent with Jinteki themes of swapping ice around, these have always been tied to assets or operations, and (arguably) hasn’t been a very relevant part of the faction’s game. So why is this so good? Don’t we want to be rezzing our ice rather than trashing it? Let’s examine the benefits:
1) It makes it harder for the Runner to get into our remotes.
Picture a remote server with 3 ice, from the bottom upwards: Enigma, Chiyashi, DNA Tracker. If using Paperclip and Gordian Blade, the Runner can get into this server for 16 credits (15 if running last click). While fairly expensive, this remote won’t reliably keep out the Runner without the help of a defensive upgrade, especially if we suspect they are carrying stimhack or other tricks. Now imagine that we are playing AgInfusion, and the Enigma in this remote is unrezzed. Once the Runner passes Chiyashi, we can trash Enigma to send them to another server that isn’t important to them (Archives is a common example). Now the Runner has to run through DNA Tracker and Chiyashi again if they want to get in – some quick number crunching shows how much more expensive this is than our first case. In the AgInfusion example, the Runner has to spend two clicks, and break both DNA Tracker and Chiyashi twice, for a total of 28 credits! That’s almost double the cost. Thus, the ID ability functions somewhat like a defensive upgrade at all times.
2) The ID ability lets you bounce the Runner straight into your nasty rezzed ice
Continuing from the last example, I had assumed that the Runner was sent to Archives when we bounced them out of our remote. A more common scenario is that you send them straight into a piece of ice that immediately punishes them. Good examples in-faction are DNA Tracker, Komainu and Chiyashi, all of which threaten heavy damage if unbroken, but your 17 influence allows you to bring in ice from all over. Program trashers are a good choice, as it is unlikely the Runner can ignore them if they are planning to break into your remote, but tagging ice or disruptive bioroids are a possibility as well. The world is your oyster here, just try to ensure the ice is spiky enough that the Runner can’t bounce off it for free.
It is worth mentioning a rules note here, which often catches newer AgInfusion players out. This trick only works if the ice you are bouncing the Runner into is rezzed. If it is unrezzed, you don’t have a window to rez it, and the Runner can go just past it, or jack out if they so wish.
3) Unrezzed ice becomes a strong deterrent.
If you have a big nasty piece of ice rezzed on a remote, the Runner may be afraid to make any runs at all on your centrals, even if you don’t have enough money to rez anything significant. Normally if a corp devotes a lot of resources to their remote to push out an agenda, a common response is to pressure centrals, either with power events, or steady HQ pressure like Maw or Turning Wheel. AgInfusion provides a degree of protection against this.
4) Power events become much harder to land.
Previously the biggest example of this was Account Siphon. Now that it’s gone, the most common scenarios are probably Indexing, The Makers Eye and Counter Surveillance. Unless the Runner has another copy of the event in their hand ready to play immediately, an unrezzed ice on a central can completely whiff their intended assault, possibly forcing them to fork out money to break ice before that happens. Again, the ideal scenario here is to have rezzed ice on the outside that the Runner has to break, then an expendable piece of unrezzed ice that we are happy to trash.
5) Using Excalibur.
This is largely the same as point 1, but is a common enough play to be worth it’s own explanation. Excalibur is a piece of ice with a good rez to strength ratio, and as a mythic type is very hard to break – you need an AI breaker to do so. The thing that keeps Excalibur out of most lists is that the sub isn’t normally very impactful – stopping the Runner from running again doesn’t do anything if they are running last click, and it also does nothing to impede their current run. So why is it relevant here? A common scoring plan for AgInfusion is to place Excalibur as the outermost piece of ice on the remote, placing another expendable piece of ice on the inside. If the Runner runs the remote, Excalibur is rezzed to prevent any further runs, and then we use the ID ability on the innermost ice to send them elsewhere, guaranteeing the safety of our agenda. This makes for a very cheap remote that allows us to score without an upgrade. a lot of AI breakers are clunky and expensive, and many decks only play one, so this scoring plan is very robust in the early game while still benefiting us later. If Excalibur goes unbroken on the remote in the mid to lategame, a successful Marcus Batty psi-game or use of a Nisei token can secure the score of another agenda.
So this ID is broken right? It brings a multitude of benefits and they even gave it 17 influence – it’s like Near Earth Hub all over again. While it is powerful, it is not without weaknesses. There are two main ones:
1) AgInfusion is very money-hungry
If, like me, you’re used to playing glacier decks in IDs with economic abilities, such as HB Engineering the Future or Palana Foods, this can come as a bit of a shock to the system. Not only does our ID give us no money, it encourages us to install a lot of ice, which costs clicks and comes with install costs. I also talked a lot about rezzing big scary ice, which is expensive. AgInfusion needs to play a good number of econ cards – just the package of 3x Hedge, 3x IPO, 3x Celebrity Gift won’t cut it. What to add depends on your deck – the most common zero influence option is Launch Campaign, with Melange Mining Corp and Medical Research Fundraiser also seeing play in some decks. If spending influence, Marilyn or Adonis Campaign can work. Whatever you go for, this is not a part of the deck you can skimp on.
2) Employee Strike exists
Mechanically it has the same effect whatever the corp, it makes your ID blank. But this hurts some corps more than others – generally the more game-warping the ID ability, the bigger the impact. Thus IDs like AgInfusion or Blue Sun, which are built to best exploit their abilities, suffer more than IDs such as Palana Foods, who simply lose a bit of money until they can turn off the Employee Strike. The good thing is that Employee Strike is less common than before due to being on the restricted list – now it competes with important cards such as Film Critic, Clone Chip and Magnum Opus for inclusion in the Runner deck. The main advice I can give here is to build your deck to be able to cope without its ID ability. This may sound very obvious, but you want good cards: ice, econ and upgrades, to ensure that you can still score when Employee Strike is active. Don’t lean too heavily on Excalibur shenanigans – remember that you are still playing a glacier deck. Another approach is to include currents of your own to turn off the Strike and slow the Runner down. By far the most common is Scarcity of Resources, but I’ve seen the odd Targeted Marketing thrown around in some decks as well.
Here are two AgInfusion lists which have seen extensive testing in practice. I’ll talk through the card choices and the major differences between the two.
AgInfusion: New Miracles for a New World
3x Nisei MK II
3x Obokata Protocol
1x Philotic Entanglement
1x The Future Perfect
3x Breached Dome
3x Launch Campaign
2x Marilyn Campaign ●●
1x Ash 2X3ZB9CY ●●
3x Marcus Batty
3x Celebrity Gift
3x Hedge Fund
2x Preemptive Action
1x Special Report ●●
This list uses Obokata Protocol as the restricted card, with the aim of making an agenda suite that is a pain for the Runner to steal. Having only 8 agendas maximises deckspace, and all of the 3-point agendas defend themselves in some way, either by allowing you play a psi game to avoid the steal, or extracting four net damage as a cost to steal. Nisei MK2 is a Jinteki staple for any deck hoping to score out in a remote, and the Philotic provides us at least one agenda that can be scored unadvanced, allowing for some occasional bluffing. I believe this to be the best agenda suite in the game right now.
Kakugo and other damaging ice can make it hard for the Runner to access Obokata Protocol with the required four cards to be able to steal it, especially if a bounce or a Marcus Batty forces two runs before they access it. Note that the Runner cannot mitigate the four damage and still steal Obokata – this classes as not paying the additional cost. The only way to cheat the requirement is to play Film Critic and host the agenda.
Breached Dome looks a bit unusual. I was initially sceptical before trying it, but this is a card that performs better in practice than on paper. As the game goes on, Breached Domes tend to build up in Archives, effectively deterring Archive runs with the intention of farming Aumakua, Datasucker or triggering Alice’s ability. It makes it a lot easier to hide an agenda in Archives for a turn or two before using Preemptive Action, and provides a useful defence against cards and combos that require all three central runs to work – most notably Apocalypse. Taking a card off the top of the Runner’s stack is annoying as well, and helps bring the Runner into range of not being able to steal Obokata ever – I have won many games this way.
The ice suite combines the large nasty ice of Jinteki with cheaper taxing ice from other factions. IP Block is excellent in this role, being ridiculously cheap to rez and normally forcing the Runner to pay three credits, and unlike many barriers, it cannot just be bounced off for nothing. The AI hate of IP Block doesn’t go to waste either, since Excalibur encourages the Runner to install an AI breaker. Fairchild 2.0 is a relatively cheap, taxing piece of ice that really shines in a meta with Yog gone. It is ideally placed on HQ against runners who want to proc Maw and/or Bhagat every turn. While a Runner might well just let it fire to land Indexing, or to access your remote to steal that winning agenda, they can’t reasonably do so every turn running HQ. Tollbooth and Ichi are also spiky splashes that you are more than happy to bounce the Runner into. Tollbooth is a good ice to start a remote with, while Ichi can catch the Runner out as a good Batty target on occasion. Notice how the theme of the ice suite is being spiky – only Kakugo can be bounced off painlessly. The ice splashes are not set in stone – the latter two could easily be something else, but they’ve performed well so far.
Whenever you play this deck, it is useful to try and work out which restricted card the Runner is using. Both Strike and Film Critic disrupt part of your gameplan – if the Runner is on neither, that is ideal. If on Strike, you can’t rely on bouncing them to ensure a score, and you may need to build up more of a remote to win. Play a standard glacier game and look for windows as you would normally, always being alert to possibilities of pushing Obokata through if the Runner ends their turn without many cards in hand. Depending on your read on the Runner, bluffing another agenda as an Obokata is also viable – the agenda is so well known that most players will expect your deck to have it by default. If they end their turn on one card, an install and double advance of a Nisei in the remote will often go unchallenged.
If the Runner is on Film Critic, you cannot abuse Obokata, but you have your ID ability for the entire game. Play for the Excalibur into bounce plan mentioned earlier, and don’t be afraid to commit heavily to the remote. If your opponent is using Indexing, a single unrezzed ice on R&D is enough to prevent that, though it is usually worth having something rezzed there as well to prevent R&D checks every turn for free. If they are using Maw/Bhagat/Turning wheel, your ID is less good for defending centrals, as they plan to run centrals every turn for benefit – in that case you may need to play slowly.
In summary, this deck is a blast to play, and has produced easily the best results for me of any corp so far. Although I’ve referred to it as a glacier, it plays quite differently depending on which runner you are facing, and which restricted card they’re on – sometimes it feels more like you’re playing a cheesy rush deck. The key is to assess each game on a case by case basis, and decide how hard you can lean on your ID ability, Obokata Protocol, and your ice/upgrades. These three elements will vary in importance game by game.
AgInfusion: New Miracles for a New World
3x Nisei MK II
3x Obokata Protocol
1x Philotic Entanglement
1x The Future Perfect
1x Blacklist ●
1x IT Department ●
1x MCA Austerity Policy ●●●
1x Melange Mining Corp
2x Tech Startup
1x Whampoa Reclamation ●●
3x Marcus Batty
1x Navi Mumbai City Grid ●●
3x Celebrity Gift
1x Fast Track
3x Hedge Fund
2x Medical Research Fundraiser
I also wanted to present an alternative decklist, to showcase the differences and similarities. Let me start off by saying that I haven’t played this deck, but I’ve played against it a fair bit. This is the deck that a number of UK players took to worlds, and can be found here. Seamus provides an excellent writeup on the deck there, so I’ll limit myself to a few observations.
The deck name of Hydra is meant to represent the fact that the deck presents a number of threats, and this one certainly has an interesting set of cards. IT Department is a key card that can lead to complete lockouts if left to sit in a remote for a couple of turns. Once an IT Department has built up a decent number of counters (say, more than 6-7), all ice becomes extremely difficult to break by conventional means, often forcing the Runner to rely on tricks such as Femme, Inside Job, or D4vid. If none of those are available, the game is simply over, as the corp can amass more and more power counters on IT Department, and win at their leisure by building a second remote, and scoring out.
It is worth noting how different the ice suite is to the first list. The ice here focuses much more on two main things: Ending the run, and trashing programs. Once your IT Department has built up some tokens, you want ice that will keep the Runner out, but also not allow them to run into it every turn to try and drain IT Department tokens. Rototurret and Tithonium are splashes that do both, with Tithonium in particular being absolutely devastating if it fires. By contrast, Fairchild 2 would be less appropriate in this deck, since the Runner can always click through it, regardless of how much you pump strength. Other porous ice such as Aiki, Yagura, IP Block and Ichi are also avoided for the same reason. Mother Goddess is good for protecting an early IT Department, forcing the Runner to find an AI breaker quickly, or suffer a lockout. DNA Tracker is retained for how strong and punishing it is.
Blacklist provides hate against Bloo Moose Conspiracy breakers, and also makes it harder for the Runner to retrieve programs lost to program trashing. Runners often pitch Paperclip with the intention of getting it back when needed – a Blacklist rez puts a spanner in the works, especially if accompanied with a Tithonium rez. Navi Mumbai City Grid further supports the rigshooter plan by preventing the Runner from using abilities such as D4v1d, Self-Modifying Code, Clone Chip and Sacrificial Construct. A lot of runners are leaning heavily on these cards at the moment, and can be caught completely off guard. Even a runner that knows your plan can lose programs to a Batty psi game, since Sac Con is turned off when running a Navi Mumbai server. Tech Startup provides a flexible tutor for any of the assets in the deck. As well as the above, it can become an economy card, or a Whampoa Reclamation if too many agendas are piling up in hand.
A popular runner at worlds, bringing a flexible, toolboxy rig and the ubiquitous Tapwrm. Be prepared to make a call on whether you’re going to purge it or not – this is one of the bigger decisions in Netrunner at the moment, so I won’t try to write an article on it here. Just be aware of it, and don’t play too much econ unnecessarily, unless you have absolutely nothing you can do with your clicks. Most Hayleys seem to be on Levy or Clone Chip at the moment, which is good news. However this is not an easy matchup as her econ is potent, and D4vid and Femme threaten IT Department variants. As with any Shaper matchup, try to push out an early Nisei if you can – Atman at 3 is rather expensive to install as a way to deal with Excalibur, and not what Hayley wants to be doing with her first SMC. Don’t despair if she has 35 credits and most/full breaker suite, her breakers are actually not that efficient, paying real money to beat ice like DNA Tracker and Chiyashi. It’s tougher late than early, but the scoring windows are there. Possible card for this matchup: Fast Track, to exploit an early window.
I believe that Smoke is currently the best runner in the game, though I’m in a minority there. As noted above, this matchup will depend to an extent on which restricted card Smoke is playing. Either way, it’s not easy, as Smoke has a very efficient rig in the lategame and isn’t slow to assemble it. Rushing out a Nisei early on is ideal, giving you the stability to score out more easily against a full rig. Try to stretch her resources with regard to installing her AI breaker, which is usually Dai V – this costs 6 to install and isn’t particularly efficient. Decks with Tithonium should be on the lookout to use Batty to fire Tithoniums final sub, which not only ends the run, but trashes a resource. Getting rid of Net Mercur is huge, and most decks only run two, and have no way to recur them. Possible hate cards for this matchup: MCA Informant if you’re being bothered a lot by Film Critic; and Voter Intimidation, to get rid of that vital Net Mercur.
Mainly seen them out of Valencia or Ed, and the odd Crim deck. Generally AgInfusion does well here, as the ID ability provides a natural defence against Apocalypse, as long as you know it’s coming. Breached Domes and Kakugos on centrals are also good, knocking the Apocalypses out of the Runner’s hand.
My experience has largely been against the pre-Worlds lists, which generally use some combination of Maw/Bhagat and possible Alice to disrupt the hand. Worlds lists seem to drop that entirely, preferring to focus on Indexing and Turning Wheel, and Aumakua to beat Mythic ice. Other themes include rebirth into Omar to increase central pressure, and Mining Accident to dish out bad pub. Play against Aumakua with IP Block and Breached Dome to stop Archives farming – I have convinced many anarch players to overwrite their Aumakua with Paperclip once IP Block appears. Anarchs are pretty terrible at dealing with your codegates, DNA Tracker especially, and Fairchild 2 on HQ makes repeated runs there pretty taxing. Take the decision on Mining Accident seriously – there is no set right answer. Try to judge how soon the game is likely to end, and act accordingly.
God of War Tagme
One of those matchups that I feel I usually play badly, but I feel AgInfusion should have a good matchup against. Your ID is useful for bouncing Counter Surveillance runs, and forcing them to run twice is good in situations where they only have one Dean Lister available. Think twice about rezzing IP Block, as it just gives them more tags. Possible hate cards for this matchup: Cyberdex Virus Suite.
I have relatively little experience facing Geist. There’s no Critic or Employee Strike to fear, since he needs Levy, so the usual early push of a Nisei is ideal. Geist isn’t necessarily the fastest runner to set up, so IT Department lock is a real possibility. Beware of Spycams finding your agendas on R&D – if this matchup becomes more common, Miraju could be considered to whiff Spycams due to the shuffle, but in general it’s rather a situational and expensive piece of ice for AgInfusion.
There isn’t much to see here. Gang Sign is the main archetype, a matchup I’ve generally found favourable, but it depends to an extent on how many agendas you draw at a time. Focus on making a solid remote above all else – you want to be able to jam agendas as soon as they come into hand. Centrals don’t need large stacks of ice, normally these decks don’t make very many runs, except to Inside Job/Spear Phish/DDOS into an insufficiently defended remote.
In conclusion, I want to mainly stress one thing: I do not believe that the two decks given above are the only way to play AgInfusion – not even close. The 17 influence allows you a lot of room to create something new, and I would point out that in the previous meta, no conclusive “best” ice suite was ever arrived at, despite several months play. Some decks played Fairchild 3.0 (harder now due to the Restricted list), some splashed Architect, some Tollbooth. News Hound is also an option, often combined with Scarcity of Resources – between that and Employee Strike, News Hound is likely to be turned on for most of the game. Decks can use IP Block and News Hound without slotting any tag punishment, since both ices are still relevant if the Runner chooses to float tags.
If you enjoy decks that offer a lot of decisions, both in and out of game, I would recommend giving AgInfusion a spin. It’s the most fun I’ve had playing a corp in a long time. Thank you for reading.