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Running to Stand Still


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Posted 21 March 2013 - 04:51 AM

“Yeah, I followed the money. Unfortunately, it was only two credits.”
    –Gabriel Santiago

A Study in Static, the fourth Data Pack for Android: Netrunner The Card Game, is now available at your local retailer!

In the high-speed, futuristic world of Android: Netrunner, corporate servers process and oversee hundreds of zetabytes of data every nanosecond, keeping tight tabs on their massive financial empires. They host valuable assets and the blueprints for the corporations’ secret agendas, and they host tricks, traps, and deadly security programs known as ice. Still, there are those individualistic criminals known as runners who, for their own reasons, conduct runs against these heavily fortified servers.

From jacking in to jacking out, these runners risk not only their software and hardware, but their neural networks and their very lives, along with those of their friends and family. One single sentry ice could do enough brain damage to render a runner brain dead. One single trace could provide a corporation enough information to tear down the runner’s network of business associates and allow a mercenary hit squad access to the runner’s private digs.

In the end, the security of hundreds of billions of credits, as well as the health of an untold number of runners, depends upon not only the strength of the ice and icebreakers employed, but the time it takes the runner to conduct a run. The sixty new cards (three copies each of twenty individual cards) from A Study in Static, the fourth Data Pack in the Genesis Cycle, more fully explore the nature of time in Android: Netrunner and the consequences of accelerating or stalling runs.

Talent, Programs, Preparation, and Fuel

A good runner’s run starts long before he ever jacks in. While anyone can attempt to breach corporate security systems, the runners who do so successfully understand that running is a matter of talent, programs, preparation, and fuel. You need to be able to understand and adapt to the limited information you find, and you need to be able to take full advantage of every weakness in a corporation’s defenses. If you can’t, you’ll be blocked, traced, or left behind.

While jacked in, runners need to rely upon their intuitions to process untold terabytes of information and devise creative responses within split seconds, but the foundations for their actions need to be built into place far earlier. As the saying goes, “an icebreaker is a girl’s best friend,” and every runner knows how important it is to have the right icebreaker for the job. However, during a run, there’s no time to write and install such programs. That has to be done before the run ever starts. Likewise, if you want to build your rig to include the most bleeding edge hardware you can, you need to do that before the run, too. And these components don’t come cheap. Simply acquiring them takes a heap of credits, and it takes more time, yet, to build up a sufficient pool of those. Thus, every good runner knows the actual practice of running most often starts well before he ever jacks into a corporate server.

Accordingly, when you do finally get all your components into place, you want to make the most of the situation. You don’t want to run once or twice and miss an agenda that the corporation advances right under your nose. Once you get your rig ready, you want to fuel up on some Diesel and launch into an All-Nighter (A Study in Static, 67). Settling down to a string of runs may not guarantee you the chance to expose corporate agendas, but it certainly increases them. It also increases your odds of gaining true Notoriety (Trace Amount, 26) or of managing to build up the strength of your Medium (Core Set, 10) over the course of several runs on R&D, during which time the Corp player has no chance to spend three clicks to wipe your virus counters.

Running into Traffic

Then again, as the runner’s going through all the effort to build up for an All-Nighter, a cautious corporation may build toward the future by advancing one or more False Leads (A Study in Static, 80). By drawing a runner toward a False Lead, a corporation can increase the potency of its defenses and buy time to advance its other agendas.

“Cautious corporation” is a term that could easily apply to any of the monolithic megacorps of Android: Netrunner. After all, they each control vast assets and need to coordinate multiple departments and servers as they steer their business toward the future. Nonetheless, the name that the phrase typically calls to mind first is Haas-Bioroid. Known for its Accelerated Beta Tests (Core Set, 55) and its tendency to install layers upon layers upon layers of ice on its servers, Haas-Bioroid is among the most cautious of a naturally cautious breed of organizations. Accordingly, developing a False Lead or two may play well into its plans, especially since it can trigger the agenda’s paid ability as a runner encounters a particularly nasty bioroid, like Ichi 1.0 (Core Set, 62) or Janus 1.0 (What Lies Ahead, 12). When the Runner decides to approach the piece of ice, he forfeits his ability to jack out, and the Corp player can then forfeit his False Lead as he rezzes his ice in order to drain the Runner’s available clicks and removing or reducing the Runner’s option of spending clicks to bypass the destruction of his programs or the brain damage that Janus 1.0 would cause.

Though the False Lead’s ability to empower bioroid ice may make it a natural fit for Haas-Bioroid, the sort of tricks it engenders also fit well into a Jinteki strategy, especially one built around the new identity the faction gained in Trace Amount, Replicating Perfection (Trace Amount, 31). With its new identity, Jinteki already gains a limited amount of control over its opponent’s turn, forcing the Runner to run against a central server before it can run against any remote servers. Then, by pairing its identity’s ability with the paid ability of a False Lead, Jinteki can limit the Runner to single click available to run against remote servers. And if that Runner needs to spend a click to gain credits, he’ll be completely shut out for a turn.

Since a turn may be all the Corp player needs to advance its final agenda, the investment in a False Lead can pay off greatly later in the game.

Time Is Not on Your Side

In the high-speed, high-stakes cyberstruggles of Android: Netrunner, there’s no time for error. All-Nighter and False Lead are just two of the cards from A Study in Static that permit players to manipulate the time they spend on the network, and they’re sure to change the way that players approach the game.

Head to your local retailer today to use All-Nighter, False Lead, and the other cards from A Study in Static to forge dynamic new strategies in your games of Android: Netrunner. The game’s fourth Data Pack is available now!






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