by Frisco Del Rosario
Debunking and De-Blinking
I leave tonight for a sealed deck tournament in
Roanoke, Virginia. I feel that after I write this installment
of Frisky AI, in which I bash Blink, I am certain to find Blink
in my starter Saturday.
First, let me say that it's possible that I'll
include Blink in a tuned starter. Blink's advantages in a sealed
deck game are obvious -- it's the strongest generic icebreaker,
and it breaks subroutines for zero bits.
I know that Blink's charms seduce inexperienced
NetRunner players immediately, and I'll wager that most players
try to craft their first constructed runner decks based on Blink.
Proteus made Blink even more attractive by adding Weefle Initiation
("make a run, and prevent 7 of the net damage Blink will do to
you") and Enterprise, Inc., Shields ("pay to avoid net damage
instead of paying to break subroutines") to the mix.
Here is the single most compelling reason that
Blink is a poor cornerstone for a constructed deck: Blink decks
do not improve as the game progresses.
The three phases of a NetRunner game are:
Opening -- The runner has an initiative until the
corporation ends runs on the central data forts.
Middlegame -- The corporation can win while the
runner establishes income and installs icebreakers.
Ending -- The runner has installed the right breakers
and will win if he runs at the right time.
A typical runner deck gets better in the late middlegame.
Perhaps he has been spending tons of bits in order to break a
Liche with Shaka -- a typical runner deck will allow the runner
to draw an AI Boon or Big Frackin' Gun. Standard runner decks
include many different icebreakers for different kinds of ice.
Blink decks do not adapt to the changing landscape. The fact that
Blinkers must play with Clown and/or Personal Touch to
cope with ice of greater than five strength is a drawback
-- playing with a particular card should not mandate playing with
another, unless it's a weak card, like Blink.
Blink decks have a fairly standard complement of
cards -- Enterprise, Inc., Shields, Green Knight Surge Buffers,
Dropp, Weefle Initiation. Again, the lack of flexibility makes
Once the Blink "kit" is in place, the runners decide
how they're going to win. I once read of a "Blink Dig" plan, a
major RD Mole excursion in combination with Blink. I would laugh
-- laugh, I say -- if every Blink roll during the final "big dig"
run came up three. Like I wrote in my piece on random cards ("You
pays your money and you takes your chances"), you live with random
cards, and you die with random cards. (I also wrote that week
that Blink deserved its own 500-word treatment, and here it is.)
Be a dude -- make some money, and pay to break subroutines.
Some Blinkers recognize the problem, and include
a Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker -- if you do that, you're a wuss
of a different color.
Standard runner decks should also have an income
plan which improves as the game goes on. In a long game, the corporation
should look across the table and shudder at the runner's Broker,
Short-Term Contract, multiple Streetware Distributors, Smith's
Pawnshop buying this and that. In a Blink deck, the corporation
doesn't care if the runner plays Playful AI and gains a billion
bits, because in most Blink decks, the bits just pay for Enterprise
I don't like Enterprise, Inc., Shields, anyway.
The thought of paying for damage protection bugs me -- pay to
install cards, pay to break subroutines, pay to make special runs,
but bloody well take the damage!
That is the crux of the matter -- Blink players
don't like to take damage, but you are not a NetRunner player
until you have taken a LOT of it.
I wrote last week that Dropp is a good card to
use with Black Widow -- that is, Dropp should ensure that a big
sentry is rezzed as bait for Widow. I've been thinking that Forged
Activation Orders might serve well in that function, too.
Someone drive me to the airport!!