Welcome to the first entry in a multi-part series on running in the mid- to late-game. Have you ever found yourself with a full rig, 10 credits, and no plan on how to win? Then this series of articles is for you. We’ll be covering late-game board states you want to work toward and the critical cards required for these strategies.
The first topic we will cover is controlling R&D. Controlling R&D means allowing the corporation access to few to no cards before you see them. All things being equal, accessing R&D is preferable to accessing HQ because you can intercept agendas before they enter play or gain information about upcoming cards (as opposed to cards you may have seen before out of HQ). This will require multiple, regular accesses or burst access seeing a large number of cards at once. Maintaining this position will result in a win under most circumstances. Easier said than done!
Let’s go over a few tools of the trade. By far the most important card in this discussion is Medium.
Whenever you make a successful run on R&D, place 1 virus counter on Medium.
Each virus counter after the first on Medium allows you to access 1 additional card from R&D whenever you access cards from R&D.
Anarch – 3 Influence
One of the benefits of running Medium is that with every counter you gain, it’s one less run you will probably have to make the next turn because you’ve already seen more than one card deep. Medium also pairs well with Grimoire and Surge, the latter allowing you to add 2 counters to a virus that has gained a virus counter this turn. While losing your medium counters in a virus scan can be frustrating, you’re also gaining additional value because the corp forgoes an entire turn. While Anarch decks can make great use of Medium, Shaper decks can gain great value because of their solid economy and efficient rigs. One way to approximate the value Medium provides is in the number of runs you don’t have to make to see another card from R&D. If an access costs 5 credits, when you see 2 cards that’s 5 credits and a run you don’t have to make the next turn — see 3 cards and it’s even more. There aren’t many cards that provide this kind of value on top of an eventual virus scan.
The Maker’s Eye
Make a run on R&D. If successful, access 2 additional cards from R&D.
Shaper – 2 Influence
Somewhat less useful but worthy of mention, The Maker’s Eye allows the runner to see the next three cards from R&D. While certainly powerful on its own, particularly when R&D is expensive to access, it pairs extremely well with Medium. Eventually the corp will have to wipe counters, so using Maker’s before a virus wipe can let you see several cards deep allowing you to score agendas and begin shifting to a new strategy (or continue building your rig). Most corp players will wipe around 3-4 counters; any less and you’re winning to the corp wiping too much, any more and you’re very likely to draw at least one agenda on the next R&D access.
Since locking R&D will usually require a run every 1-3 turns, recurring credits and ice destruction will be of great assistance. Some examples of recurring credits or pseudo-credits are Cyberfeeder (Anarch), Spinal Modem (Anarch), Datasucker (Anarch), Desperado (Criminal) and Toolbox (Shaper). Examples of ice destruction include Parasite (Anarch), Forged Activation Orders (Criminal), and the newly released Kraken (neutral).
On a related note, looking at the list of cards above should begin to illustrate the importance of choosing useful out-of-faction cards when playing Shaper. Simply having a solid rig and economy isn’t enough to win a game; support cards and a solid rig are important, but splashing for game-winning cards like Medium is critical to having a flexible deck. This will become even more apparent in the next few articles.
Finally, choosing when to begin digging R&D is critical. Taking several cards from R&D can be a mistake sometimes, particularly against Jinteki or if you’re unprepared for a Snare. The ideal scenario is having an easily accessible R&D with a corp low on credits, and having icebreakers or cards like Parasite on hand ready to deal with new ice. Cards like Forged Activation Orders (played on a non-R&D server), Vamp and Account Siphon can assist in setting up a more ideal R&D digging situation. Playing Medium the turn you plan to begin running R&D will prevent preemptive defenses by the corp.
Thanks for reading the first edition of The Long Game, let me know your thoughts via email or comment below!