last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Count Zero

My recent piece on Mystery Box brought on a bit of mail about Joan of Arc, because Joan of Arc interacts well with Mystery Box and nullifies Experimental AI, two cards which were discussed in the essay. All of your comments about Joan of Arc are surely correct -- I just didn't give the card any thought when I sat down to write because Joan of Arc, my pre-Proteus candidate for worst card in the game, doesn't exist in my playgroup. If I later neglect other weasel cards like Death from Above and Time to Collect, you have my excuse in advance. Onward.

More than a year ago, the best Proteus decks were discovered and then worn out. It also became clear that there wouldn't be another Netrunner expansion. So, designers turned their attention to "fun" decks, those with unusual themes or card combinations, and which wouldn't stand up well against a "good" deck, but would provide a few laughs. Chihuahua Death Traps were typical "fun" decks -- that is, once the runner could cope with Chihuahua, the game was probably over, but in the rare instances where the little bug-eyed creep flatlined the sucker, it was news. Everyone had a scheme for charging the Chihuahua to death levels, too -- Hacker Trackers, Vacuum Links, Jack Attack here, Lisa Blight there.

Anyway, the latest wrinkle in my neighborhood is the zero-cost runner deck, wherein every card must cost of zero to install or play. That condition severely limits one's choice of cards, of course, so the challenge is to make an efficient assortment.

Your cohorts should agree on whether or not hidden cash resources are allowable. Liberated Savings Account might have "0" printed in the corner, but it's not a zero-cost card, truly. Another odd little question is if the Valu-Pak Software Bundle bit permits the inclusion of one-cost programs. I think not, because the runner's task suddenly becomes much easier -- he can then play with Jackhammer, Dupre, and Raptor, far better than Grubb, Krash (the only zero-cost "code gate breaker"), and Wild Card. Hell, throw in Armageddon, and it gets dangerous.

Income sources Top Runners' Conference, Loan from Chiba, misc.for-sale, Databroker, Livewire's Contacts, On the Fast Track. Prearranged Drop makes sense if your playmates agree that Ice and Data Special Report may be played for zero -- it's supposed to be printed as such. Lucidrine Booster Drug and Organ Donor suffer in these conditions because there aren't any zero-cost trash recycling cards besides Forgotten Backup Chip.

There aren't many plans at the runner's disposal, but they are good ones. Ice destruction is a winning scheme, and WORM Chip and Core Command both fit the zero bill (though I guess one could argue that Core Command doesn't really cost zero), and so does Startup Immolator. A Kilroy Was Here/RD Mole attack is possible, and so is a Weather-to-Finance/Credit Subversion annoyance.

I opted for the obvious Top Runners Conferencing plus misc.for-sale of an Imp tree (leaving Imps behind to hold RD Protocol and AI Interface). The problem with packing all those TRCs, Imps, Jack 'n' Joes, and ValuPaks is that there's no room for safety items like Fall Guy, Full Body Conversion, or even Enterprise, Inc., Shields. I mean, I'd just have to resign if the Protocol runs revealed too many Fetal AIs.

There's not much scope in the architecture of zero-cost runner decks, naturally -- you will grow bored very soon. Then you can get started on your zero-cost corp deck.


Frisky's Corner