“Time to break the ice.”
The 2013 Regional Championship tournament season is now in full swing, and players from around the world have already started building their servers and conducting their runs in the high-stakes cyberstruggles of Android: Netrunner The Card Game.
FFG’s Regional Championship tournaments for Android: Netrunner draw top players and enthusiasts from far and wide to compete for fun, the love of the game, and exclusive prizes, including playmats, a deck box, custom identity cards, and a Championship trophy. Additionally, the winner of each Regional Championship earns free entry to the FFG World Championship Weekend, November 7th – 10th.
Choose Your Server
Meanwhile, the game is young and constantly evolving. The Genesis Cycle, its first series of Data Packs, has been unleashing the hottest new technology developed by both Corps and Runners. New runners have entered the game, along with new corporate identities. All of these changes have led to a diverse and exciting tournament metagame. Veterans gain more tricks, bluffs, and feints to keep their opponents off-balance, and new players can find fun, competitive deck options for a myriad of strategies.
If you’re looking to make your first foray into this large gaming community (or even if you’re a veteran looking for a competitive edge), then we’re happy to share the information we gained during our brief Q&A session about the evolving Android: Netrunner metagame that we conducted with the reigning World Champion, Jeremy Zwirn.
Jeremy Zwirn in action during the 2012 World Championship Weekend
World Champion Jeremy Zwirn on the Android: Netrunner Metagame
FFG: What sort of strategies do you expect to see during the 2013 Android: Netrunner The Card Game Regional Championships, and which do you think will be most difficult to defeat?
JZ: “I expect to see a fairly diverse field for the 2013 Regional Championships with Shaper and Haas-Bioroid leading the way as the most popular factions. Shapers recently gained the new identity, Chaos Theory (Cyber Exodus, 46), and I expect her to be well-represented, along with other such strong cards as Personal Workshop (Cyber Exodus, 49) and Test Run (Cyber Exodus, 47). Haas-Bioroid has always been one of the best corporations thanks in part to its powerful identity, Engineering the Future (Core Set, 54), and I believe the faction will be played heavily throughout the Regional Championship season. I also think Haas-Bioroid will be one of the two most difficult factions to defeat, along with the Criminals.
“Haas-Bioroid is particularly hard to defeat because they have a wealth of strong options: a robust economy, ice with high strength-to-cost ratios, superb agendas, and deck versatility. The corporation can win relatively quickly with a fast-advance strategy that installs and scores agendas in a single turn, or they can play deep into the late game, creating nearly impenetrable servers with towers of ice. Engineering the Future and Adonis Campaign (Core Set, 56) provide Haas-Bioroid players a steady stream of credits to power their defenses, which usually include ice like Ichi 1.0 (Core Set, 62) and Heimdall 1.0 (Core Set, 61) and upgrades such as Ash 2X3ZB9CY (What Lies Ahead, 13) and Corporate Troubleshooter (Core Set, 65). Both Accelerated Beta Test (Core Set, 55) and Project Vitruvius (Cyber Exodus, 51) are outstanding two-point agendas that can single-handedly change the game when they’re scored, and if Haas-Bioroid can score an early Mandatory Upgrades (What Lies Ahead, 11), the Runner will be forced to win quickly or get horribly outpaced. Haas-Bioroid can also install and score agendas in a single turn with Biotic Labor (Core Set, 59), making it extremely difficult for the Runner to steal them. If you like to build towers of ice and watch your opponent struggle to fight through them, or if you like to sit back until the moment comes to safely score an agenda from your hand, Haas-Bioroid is for you.
“Criminals are also very difficult to defeat. Their philosophy is simple: run and run often. Cards like Desperado (Core Set, 24) and Doppleganger (A Study in Static, 64) exemplify this motto. Criminals are difficult to defeat because they're constantly applying pressure. This usually results in corporations that are low on credits and have their defenses spread too thin, and no server should be left lightly defended against a Criminal. HQ must be protected from Account Siphon (Core Set, 18) and Gabriel Santiago (Core Set, 17). R&D must be defended from a splashed Maker's Eye (Core Set, 36) or Medium (Core Set, 10). Archives must be iced to combat Sneakdoor Beta (Core Set, 28). Finally, Inside Job (Core Set, 21) makes any lightly defended server extremely vulnerable, so it becomes difficult for the Corp to find any safe place to score their agendas. However, Criminals usually lose momentum the longer the game goes, so if the Corp can weather the early-game storm, they will stand a good chance of winning. But if the corp gets a bad draw, Criminals will punish them for it. If you like to play aggressively and aggravate your opponent, Gabriel is your man.”
FFG: How do you feel the metagame has changed since Worlds?
JZ: “With each new Data Pack, the options and possibilities for deck-building expand and create a constantly evolving metagame. Cyber Exodus, in particular, has greatly affected the metagame with its numerous powerful cards. Personal Workshop has inspired a whole new form of running; it provides income by slowly defraying the cost of the programs and hardware you place on layaway, and it provides flexibility by allowing you to install cards in the middle of your runs. Are you unsure what ice to target with Femme Fatale (Core Set, 26)? You can just load her onto your Personal Workshop and wait for the opportune time to install her. Personal Workshop also fits nicely into Noise decks; you can load it up with viruses such as Parasite (Core Set, 12), Imp (What Lies Ahead, 13), and Medium, then unleash them all in a massive and potentially game-winning turn. Haas-Bioroid got a boost with Project Vitruvius, another agenda that scores quickly and easily, making it more difficult and more important for Runners to find means of discerning agendas from assets and upgrades. Emergency Shutdown (Cyber Exodus, 43) provides yet another reason HQ must be well-protected against Criminal, and it can discourage the Corp from playing expensive ice like Archer (Core Set, 101) and Janus 1.0 (What Lies Ahead, 12). Commercialization (Cyber Exodus, 58) has spawned an interesting archetype: the ever-advancing ice deck. You can generate an astonishing amount of credits by repeatedly advancing an Ice Wall (Core Set, 103) or Shadow (Core Set, 104) and playing Commercialization multiple times. Weyland also recently received Oversight AI (A Study in Static, 79), which allows the Corp to put early-game pressure on the Runner by scoring agendas behind the relative safety of massive ice like the aforementioned Archer and Janus 1.0. You just have to watch out for those sneaky Criminals with their Inside Jobs and Emergency Shutdowns!
“I'm looking forward to participating in the 2013 Regional Championships and this ever-changing metagame!”
Criminals and Haas-Bioroid are Jeremy’s picks for the strongest factions in the current metagame, and early Regional Championship tournament reports posted on our forums and elsewhere have certainly shown them to be among the leaders. However, those same early tournament reports have revealed that if those factions have an edge, it isn’t very large. Players have won Regional Championships with nearly every possible identity among both Runners and Corps, so perhaps if you’re looking for guidance from Jeremy’s assessment, you should look to the language he uses in closing his recommendations, “If you like to…” Each faction has its own strengths, and Jeremy’s review is also a reminder that you should play to your style…and play decks that you like!
Jeremy Zwirn in the 2012 Android: Netrunner World Championship finals.
The Next Evolution
What’s coming next for Android: Netrunner? The game’s fifth Data Pack, Humanity’s Shadow, is scheduled to arrive next week and will soon send ripples throughout the game.
Here’s a look at four of the pack’s upcoming cards:
Join the Fun!
The Regional Championship tournament season runs through June, so you still have time to make your decks and join the fun! You can find a Regional Championship near you by consulting our lists of United States and international venues.