“Oh, hello, Mister Pegasus 2.0. What can you do?”
–Chaos Theory, g-mod Shaper
Android: Netrunner is a game that challenges players to master the principles of both efficiency and of surprise. To stay ahead of your opponent, you need to find ways to increase the efficiency of your systems – to get a better return than merely one or one card draw per . Efficiency is the muscle of the network, and if you can’t keep up, you’ll be bullied. Of course, maintaining the raw efficiency of your primary systems rarely leaves room for surprises. Your efforts to throw your opponents off-balance will almost certainly require a measure of risk and the introduction of a foreign element that runs counter to the smooth, mechanical purr of your cycling through credits, card draw, installation, and advancement or runs.
Balancing your investments into both efficiency and high-risk unpredictability requires an intuitive grasp of the flow of the game. You need to understand both how the game flows, in general, while you build your deck, and you need to appreciate the flow of each game you play in order to know when your strategy is working properly and when you need to modify it. You need to understand the economy of each card and the potential impact each may have in the game, especially when used in conjunction with the other cards in your deck.
As players have explored the combinations available in the Core Set, they have immediately gravitated toward the efficiencies driven by such cards as Magnum Opus (Core Set, 44), Armitage Codebusting (Core Set, 53), and Melange Mining Corp (Core Set, 108). They have also gravitated toward the surprises and bluffs facilitated by cards like Project Junebug (Core Set, 69) and Inside Job (Core Set, 22).
Now, as the Genesis Cycle promotes new efficiencies and surprises, players will want to reevaluate the value of each of the cards in their decks. Will another card offer greater efficiency? Will a new approach program your deck toward a glitch-free victory? What about the surprises? Is there a new trick that fits into your deck better than your old tricks?
Cards that introduce new tricks into your deck may be the most difficult to evaluate in terms of their costs, but they also do more than anything else to distinguish one individual’s design from another and often provide the greatest moments of impact. As you choose which tricks best fit your design, you would be wise to consider how they interact with your overall strategy. How large of an impact will they have? How often will you be able to play them? Can they fulfill more than one role?
Today, lead developer Lukas Litzsinger explores the “trick” cards of Cyber Exodus, the third Data Pack in the Genesis Cycle and one that offers players great flexibility in their strategies.
Lukas Litzsinger on Flexibility in Android: Netrunner
Flexibility is important in Android: Netrunner. Sometimes you have to roll with the early punches in order to gain a lasting advantage. In Cyber Exodus, many different cards offer flexibility to both the Runner and the Corporation, but at a cost.
Let’s look at the Corp side first. Chimera (Cyber Exodus, 60) is a fantastic piece of ice. It can become whatever type of ice you most need it to be, making it super-effective early game. That said, it has zero strength, so an AI breaker like Crypsis (Core Set, 51) or Wyrm (Core Set, 13) can shred right through it. It will also cost you two credits to rez it each time the Runner attacks its server. Unless you have Akitaro Watanabe (Core Set, 79) working on its server, Chimera’s two credits can get expensive over time. But if you really have to keep the Runner out, it is a price well worth paying, and pairing your Chimera with a Corporate Troubleshooter (Core Set, 65) can really give the Runner a headache.
Another good example of Corporate flexibility is the Weyland Consortium ice, Woodcutter (Cyber Exodus, 57). Where Chimera is strong in the early game, Woodcutter fits best in a deck that bets on winning the late game. Even though it doesn’t end a run, the more the Corp advances it, the more lethal it becomes, and the clicks and credits you spend to advance it are a deterrent against runs on the server your Woodcutter defends.
On the Runner side, Test Run (Cyber Exodus, 47) allows you to use any program in your stack for a turn, and then places the program on top of your stack if it is still installed when the turn ends. This is a great ability, but it costs three credits. If you just want to build your rig, it will be more expensive in the long run than Special Order (Core Set, 22). It also costs three influence as opposed to Special Order’s two, so it is even harder to splash. That said, the surprise factor is well worth the cost. You can throw in a Sneakdoor Beta (Core Set, 28) and waltz on through to HQ when the Corp least expects it. Or install a Femme Fatale (Core Set, 26), targeting a piece of ice, and run three times on the server it protects. Then, after the Femme Fatale is returned to the stack, it can pick a new target if you pay to install it again later. Thus, Test Run introduces new surprises as it builds upon the Shapers’ existing strengths with more excellent program manipulation.
Shapers aren’t the only ones with tricks up their sleeves, and the Criminals get in on the action with a program that helps overcome many of the surprises Corps try to put in their way. Criminals are in it for the credits and would much rather avoid unnecessary risks. Snitch (Cyber Exodus, 45) is a great program for this risk-aversive approach. It allows the Runner to expose an unrezzed piece of ice once per run. Then the Runner can choose to continue the run or jack out. It won’t help you directly succeed at your runs, but it will help you run smarter. And when you weigh your options for deck flexibility, Snitch is bound to merit a good deal of consideration.
When Cyber Exodus becomes available, how will you navigate the network? Will you focus on raw power, earning credits and using clicks at maximum efficiency? Or will you seek to make the most possible impact from high-risk and high-reward events and programs that allow you to run smarter, if not necessarily faster?
You’ll have your chance to strike your balance soon. Cyber Exodus is on its way!