Updating decks when new data packs come out can be a very difficult task to tackle and even more so trying to figure out if any new deck archetypes can spawn from new cards combined with existing ones. One of my biggest strengths in previous games, and I feel like it carries over into Netrunner, is designing decks and updating existing ones. One of my personal preferences, and something of a trademark of mine, is including many functional one-ofs to give you the most options possible. I’ll get more into detail on this in a bit but for now let’s jump into what we’re looking at with the current set.
Moving Forward With Humanity’s Shadow
Instead of going by and giving card by card ratings (that’s already been done several times), I’m going to just pick out a handful of cards from the pack that jump out at me as the most powerful cards and worth building around. We’re start with the Runner since this pack features a new Criminals ID:
3-cost Neutral Event
Play only if you stole an Agenda this turn. Choose a server, the Corp trashes 1 piece of ice protecting that server.
This card seems very powerful to me and for Criminals especially (and Anarchs to a lesser extent but still good). Combined with Parasites you can seriously cripple the Corps servers and when you add in Forged Activation Orders and Emergency Shutdown, you’re also crippling their economy. One thing that I really don’t like about this card is that it is really swingy. When it’s bad it’s really bad and when it’s good you put the game severely out of reach. I feel like cards like this are bad for the game because they aren’t fun to play with or against. That said, it’s hard to justify not playing this card in Criminal and Anarch decks that focus on ice denial.
This card is one of the key cards in the set. It screams “build around me” and really complements the super ice denial strategy that’s already very good. It also gives Gabe (or now Andromeda) a reason to play with Parasite. Spending influence is going to be a little more challenging now with Gabe and could be something like this:
1 Ice Carver ***
2 Xanadu ****
3 Parasite ******
1 Corroder **
You lose The Maker’s Eye and access to Medium this way but you put a lot more pressure on the Corp in the mid game which is somewhere where Gabe starts to taper off a bit. I think this strategy would rely a bit more on Crypsis as your main breaker but I could be wrong there. Only being able to play 1 Corroder is a bit of a pain if you don’t draw Special Order. Here’s what I see the shell of the Gabe deck being:
1 Ice Carver ***
2 Xanadu ****
3 Parasite ******
1 Corroder **
3 Emergency Shutdown
3 Forged Activation Orders
3 Inside Job
That includes the influence cards plus the overall basic core for an ice denial strategy. Sprinkle in the usual Criminals suite of Inside Job, some number of Account Siphons, and your economy cards and you have yourself a deck. Top it off with your ice breakers of choice, the Special Orders, and Mem Chips to have room to host the Viruses and you’re done. Here’s how my deck would look. Keep in mind that this is just version 1.0 and is untested and certainly subject to change:
ID: Gabriel Santiago
2 Sneakdoor Beta
1 Femme Fatale
2 Dyson Mem Chip
1 Plascrete Carapace
3 Compromised Employee
2 Armitage Codebusting
2 Kati Jones
1 Ice Carver
3 Sure Gamble
3 Inside Job
2 Account Siphon
3 Forged Activation Orders
3 Emergency Shutdown
2 Special Order
That’s what the first draft would look like I think. Kati Jones seems like a spectacular card for Criminals to take advantage of as it gives you a very solid source of income late in the game. Using a Kati for 6 or 9 gives you the much appreciated credits to get a Femme into play and close the game out. It also gives you money to win Traces against an NBN or Weyland player looking to Sea Source you out of the game. The Plascrete really might not be needed in the deck and might be better off as a third copy of Special Order or a singleton copy of HQ Interface (which is a card I think is a little overrated but still very solid).
Identity: Natural. Criminal
1 Link – 45/15
You draw a starting hand size of 9 cards.
This is a tricky one. I feel like she’s very good if only because she enables really explosive starts. I think the 2 credits on an HQ run by Gabe is more powerful in a vacuum but she can do some pretty silly things. Assuming that you’re running 45 cards, she draws 20% of your deck at the start of the game. This basically ensures that you’re going to get your Economy and ice breaker suite set up very, very quickly and will be able to Account Siphon through ice at an extremely early point in the game. Her base link also seems like the perfect ID to run Underworld Contact in. I’m not 100% sure how to build a deck with her yet but I’d start with a pretty aggressive core such as:
3 Sure Gamble
3 Easy Mark
3 Inside Job
X/X Kati Jones and/or Armitage Codebusting
3 Special Order
I’d want 2 Corroder for sure because naturally drawing one is very good in an aggressive deck. You want to be tutoring up your other breakers when you need them and drawing Corroder to break through early Ice Walls and Walls of Static. Search up Peacock against early Enigmas, etc. I would consider 2 Femme’s in this deck because you don’t have a lot of ice denial and they might get a chance to either advance an Ice Wall to infinity and/or rez a Tollbooth or Heimdall. Having access to 2 Femme’s lets you target the early Ice Wall with the first and still have a backup for the big ice.
Obviously you can go much more aggressive than what I list but the overall game plan is taking her starting hand and building a rig as fast as possible. I suggest Doppelganger because once she gets set up, making the free run off the Console becomes very easy. I also think Doppelganger combos pretty well with Inside Job as making that first successful run can be challenging at times. Inside Jobbing to trigger the free run is pretty sweet and about as aggressive as you can get.
I really don’t think Anarchs or Shapers gained much in this Data Pack. Creeper is probably an OK card for a Kate Super Link deck but it’s very inefficient at doing what it does. I’d still test out 1 copy of it and see how it does though. Not taking up a MU is quite good and might even free up space to install a Sneakdoor or Medium in your rig when you otherwise couldn’t without Mem Chips or playing a mediocre card such as Djinn.
Replicator is interesting and is another card that makes Inside Man more enticing. That said, the Hardware deck needs something to do other than just play a bunch of hardware that gives you Link and MU’s. You aren’t actually improving your board state by doing this and become vulnerable to Corp decks who either fast advance or just wall up behind a super server.
Quality Time is another card that seems good on paper but in practice might not be as good. Drawing 5 basically means that you’re going to end up discarding a few of them which makes it a Diesel that you just get to pick the best 3 cards from but end up having to pay 3 for. I’d almost always play Diesel over this card but then again maybe I’m way off. I guess in a deck where you run something like Public Sympathy then maybe you’d want this card over Diesel.
Pheromones is a card I’ve seen a lot of players talk about but I really don’t think the card is good at all. Taking up 1 MU is pretty huge for the already MU starved Shapers and other decks won’t want to splash it at an influence cost of 2. If you could use the credits on each HQ run, instead of just recurring credits, then it’d be much more playable but as it is I’m not very impressed. I’m pretty confident in saying that this isn’t a very good card but I have to be careful tossing out blanket statements like that when Noise exists and cards have the subtype “Virus.”
Finally, Surge is the other card I feel like is worth talking about. I’ve seen a lot of people saying Surge is good with X or Y but really surge is just good with 4 cards at the moment. Medium, Nerve Agent, Parasite, and Crypsis. With Parasite it serves as basically a removal spell that they can’t really stop. With Medium, it serves as a pseudo Maker’s Eye that they need to purge immediately. With Nerve Agent it serves as an HQ Interface that they need to purge immediately. Finally, with Crypsis, it basically just serves as a free action and powers up Crypsis to run a big server. I don’t think the card is super powerful but could easily see Noise playing it as like a 1-of for a surprise card that forces a purge. It’s obviously best on Parasite and Medium of the above mentioned cards.
I think the Corp gained a lot of pretty sweet cards in this set as well and we’ll start with the one that I feel is the best card in the set because it makes an underplayed ID much more of a threat. That corp is Jinteki and the card is Hokusai Grid.
Whenever there is a successful on this server, do 1 net damage. Limit 1 region per server.
4 cost to trash
The fact that this card isn’t unique really puts it over the top in my opinion. Even at 4 to trash it’s a bargain for you and hard to trash for the Runner. If you get multiple of these out, it’s going to be a headache and a half for the Runner to figure out where to run and actually justifying running with the threat of Junebug, Snare!, Aggressive Secretary, and now this card. Jinteki now basically plays as an Asset deck with very little Operations and will rely on Assets to generate its income. While this is more consistent overall, it also leaves you more vulnerable to trash effects like Imp. I think that this is negligible because you just end up with so many cards that generate credits anyway. I think that Whirlpool could also find a spot or two in a deck like this as you’re already playing a bunch of punishing ice anyway and really discourages early runs by the Runner. Setting up a server with Chum over a Katana and then topping it off with Whirlpool can be pretty gross. If you also have the Grid on that server you actually just won the game unless they for some reason have more than 5 cards in hand at the time. Add in cards like Snare, and Fetal AI and you’re doing a ton of net damage at basically zero effort or risk.
At it’s absolute very worst, the Grid is a Neural EMP that also drains the runner of 4 credits, or they ignore it and you have free reign to do what you want in that server and play any mind games you feel like. Enough talking about the card, let me give a sample decklist of something that I’m pretty excited to try out.
ID: Jinteki, Replicating Perfection
3 Nisei MK II
3 Fetal AI
1 Private Security Force
3 Adonis Campaign
2 PAD Campaign
2 Melange Mining Corp
1 Dedicated Server
1 Edge of World
2 Project Junebug
1 Aggressive Secretary
3 Hokusai City Grid
1 Marked Accounts
3 Neural Katana
2 Wall of Thorns
2 Data Mine
3 Wall of Static
3 Neural EMP
This here is my kind of deck. It may seem like it’s just all over the place (and it is) but there’s a method to the madness. Your overall goal is to flatline the runner but it is possible to win by Agendas with some good planning and mind tricks. If the Runner hits an early Snare or Fetal AI it’s going to be tough for them to run early. Cards like Medium and Maker’s Eye become risky to even play because of fear of hitting multiple traps and just losing. Neural EMP makes a runner who feels safe either become flatlined or severaly crippled.
Note that this deck is very, very difficult to play properly. You have to be aware of the tricks it can pull off and have a pretty good grasp on when you can trick your opponent. I’ve played a Braintrust turn 1 without even flinching and scored it on the following turn. Note that you don’t have a lot of End the Run ice and that’s on purpose. Most of the time you want to runner to come through but there are obviously times where you just need to protect a server and stop the runner from getting in.
The Janus in the deck might be a bit of a stretch but if you hit an early Melange, it’s not too difficult to rez and is a bit of a back breaker. Hitting the runner with a Janus basically means a Snare! or Hokusai Grid plus some EMPs can easily kill them. Chum and Data Mine is another neat trick but you need to make sure that you some something else behind the Data Mine so Chum isn’t completely dead.
Unique 0-Cost Upgrade
Whenever there is a successful run on this server, Trace 5 – If successful, give the runner 1 tag. Otherwise, trash Bernice Mai. 3 to trash.
Bernice Mai is mainly the other corp card getting a lot of press and I can see the merits to the discussions but I’m not really getting on board with it. I am absolutely certain that the card is super powerful. It’s free to rez and Traces for a million. We’re all aware and not debating that it’s certainly going to tag the Runner. But then what? Closed Accounts and Psychographics are two cards that come to mind but neither of those are super impressive without something to really close out the game. I really want there to be an NBN “Scorched Earth” effect but maybe something a little less threatening (like 2 damage instead of 4, mayhaps). The only problem with that is that then Weyland would likely splash it and have access to 2 Scorched Earth effects. I suppose the same can be said for NBN.
Anyway, it’s hard to splash more than two Scorched Earths in NBN but maybe that’s the direction it will just need to go. Bernice certainly pushes them that way at least. You can go a route with Big Brothers and just aim to tag the Runner a ton of times and Psychographics + SanSan them out of a game. Scoring a Restructured Datapools or Executive Retreat doesn’t seem to hard now with that idea. All that said, Closed Accounts isn’t exactly the worst thing you can be doing when they’re tagged, it’s just not exactly the best.
In the theoretical deck listed above, Bernice is an all star but for NBN decks that don’t want to Scorch their opponents, I don’t think she’s really all that attractive. Once we get Project Beale and the NBN data pack, we might have some more things to do with tags. Here’s to hoping anyway. As an aside, Project Beale is absolutely absurd with SanSan combined with a huge Psychographics. I can see situations where the Runner has 3 tags after a Big Brother turn and you place Beale in a SanSan server, advance it, then Psychographics for 3 scoring 3 points in a turn. It also has the added bonus of just being able to be placed in a SanSan server and scored that turn for 2 points.
I mention SanSan a lot and that’s because it’s the best NBN card by a pretty wide margain. If you aren’t playing at the -very least- 2 SanSan in your NBN decks, you need to reevaluate it.
Unique 4-cost Upgrade
2 recurring credits. Use these credits to advance cards in or protecting this server. 3 to trash.
Simone Diego is the other card that could potentially see some play because it’s basically the second Weyland ID that can also be used on Agendas. I feel like the cost is a little steep, and she’s easy to get to and trash, but the reward is pretty nice. This goes pretty nice in a Weyland deck that wants to advance ice pretty well and sets up some pretty sweet Commercialization’s. A card like this could also POTENTIALLY make the ice like Woodcutter playable but I’m not exactly holding my breath for that one. Mainly, I’m thinking that you can triple advance an Ice Wall in the server, using the ID ability, in one turn for 0 total credits.
I’m on the fence about this one but won’t be too necessarily perplexed to see it in winning lists in the future. I think that really covers it for this data pack. Criminals certainly got a bump or at least a different direction to go and that’s certainly nice. Anarchs gained Surge which may prove to be mediocre. Shapers didn’t gain much but Creeper may see some fringe play. I was asked about HQ Interface and I didn’t talk about that card too much but I feel like it’s just an average card, maybe slightly above average. It’s certainly better than Nerve Agent in non-Anarch decks though so there’s that. It might see some play because the effect stacks at least. We’ll see.
On the corp side, Jinteki certainly got a bump and there’s 100 different ways to build a Jinteki deck now which I definitely like. NBN got a pretty sweet card and Weyland got a potential winner. HB basically gained nothing in this pack which is perfectly fine because they were already the best corp by a pretty good margin. Maybe they can splash Bernice and get some use out of her but I’m not sold on that idea.
Thanks for reading and see you again soon!