last update 03.09.2006 12:01
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Frisky's Corner

by Frisco Del Rosario

Take out the papers and the trash

Do you spend enough time deciding what to discard? I think trash management is an overlooked aspect of NetRunner play.

The first thing to understand about your discard pile is that it is easily recycled. Gideon's Pawnshop, Junkyard BBS, and Off-Site Backups are low-cost retrievers of single cards. The runner can pay three bits for MIT West Tier, and shuffle his hand and discard pile together. If the corporation scores the AI Chief Financial Officer agenda, he gains the ability to take one action to shuffle the central forts together. AI CFO's ability to recycle trash and reshuffle is so powerful that InQuest magazine called it the "Card to Get" in NetRunner.

Off-Site and Gideon's extend the usefulness of your other cards by allowing them all to be played more than once, but without having to include multiples in your deck. Gideon's Pawnshop should give the runner the courage to take ice damage -- go ahead and force the corp to rez Code Corpse, for the vital cards in your hand can be salvaged.

Just because it's easy to fetch cards from the discard pile, it doesn't mean you can choose your discards haphazardly. When the need arises for a certain card which you've already thrown away by choice, it is very frustrating -- it is even more annoying if the card you kept in its stead never came into play.

The state of the game before you is always the best guide to selecting discards. Correctly sizing up the contest will make your discarding choices less painful, and it will also help you make best use of cards which permit you to draw extra cards -- Crash Everett, Inventive Fixer is an excellent resource in the hands of a runner who recognizes trash when he sees it. Furthermore, you will find that you don't have to include as many hand size expansion cards in your deck, leaving room for power cards.

The agenda score often influences choice in discard. When the corporation reaches six agenda points, it's safe for the runner to throw away Terrorist Reprisal. Before the runner achieves six agenda points, Blackmail is expendable, but after the makes reaches six, all the bonus preps like Prearranged Drop and Desperate Competitor become disposable. The corporation, similarly, can easily trash Trojan Horse and Silver Lining Recovery Protocol.

I am far more likely as runner to trash a Corporate Ally if I have not scored an agenda point. Same goes Arasaka Portable Prototype, but who plays with that? (what an expensive card).

Concealment is another consideration in choice of discard. Just because you have two of the same card in your hand does not make it an obvious discard. If I am holding two Technician Lovers, I will not discard one until I am ready to run RD.

Keep in mind a card's ability in relationship to the time of game. Early in the game, I will considering keeping two code gate breakers in hand, if one is Dupre. Dupre installed fast and pumped on a small code gate is a long-term strength. Misc.for-sale pays best when you have had time to install many cards, and is therefore a fair choice to pitch early.

Late in the contest, Floating Runner BBS is a goner, because the game might not last the seven turns Floating needs to start returning a profit. Same goes for all the cards like it -- Rigged Investments, Holovid and Braindance Campaigns, Spinn, Streetware, etc. (Similar thinking applies to whether you should load a previously-installed Spinn or Streetware, or cash out a Broker.) The Detroit Police Contract agenda (a "Campaign" agenda) loses a lot of its value late in the game, and is an easier agenda to trash than others. Political Overthrow and other high-difficulty agenda can be discarded in a pinch, when there's no time to score them.

Early in the game, I bet it is more convenient to ditch a memory chip than a daemon. When there is plenty of available MU in which to install a daemon, the daemon may provide all the extra memory that is needed, plus it is cheaper to install. Later, there might be no room for the daemon, and a chip is needed.

As ever, keep an eye on your opponent's bit pool. Runners can painlessly toss Weather-to-Finance Pipes and Forged Activation Orders when the corporation can easily afford their effects. The corporate player makes such decisions every time he draws a piece of ice -- when the runner has icebreakers installed, it's simple to pass judgment on a Sleeper.

Where your own bit pool is concerned, let the state of the game guide you. If you feel like discarding AI Boon because you think you're on a Loony Goon budget, check the agenda tally -- if the score is tied at zero, you're probably wiser to plan for a long term, and save bits for Boon. However, if you have to run now, chuck the Boon, and keep the Goon.


Frisky's Corner