Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
Opinions are like Blink Stacks...
...everyone's got one. Blink receives as much press as any Netrunner
card. The polis is sharply divided between those who consider Blink
the free, universal breaker and those who consider Blink the suicidal,
Frisco del Rosario wrote 500 words about Blink in his "Debunking
and De-Blinking" column. His analysis is not perfect but there
is a lot to consider in his treatise. You should also consider writing
Scott Dickie and asking him about Blink (tell him to work on his
web site while you're there).
There are three questions to resolve before you install your set
of Blinks and begin running:
How Many Blinks?
The number of Blinks you will install involves balancing the speed
of your setup, the cost of your setup, and the risk you are prepared
to take when running.
"Clearly, Blink users do not take the 'easy way out.' "
Each blink costs five bits to install. For seven bits, you could
install Jackhammer, Codecracker, and Looney Goon. Clearly, Blink
users do not take the "easy way out." Finding a single
card in your deck usually takes the equivalent of two additional
bits (actions spent, cards used, bits, etc.). So figure in an expense
of seven bits per Blink you want to install.
Getting the Blinks takes time. The more you install, the longer
it takes to begin running. There are several cards that can help
speed your setup:
Dropp is always good for running early. You can force the Corp
to spend its bits to rez ICE that you can't possibly break yet.
Dropp is also useful for revealing the type of ICE. In a Blink deck,
however, the type of ICE doesn't matter, so Dropp loses some of
Force Shields can save you from a lot of early damage. A Banpei
or Marionette. will stop you cold, though. Otherwise, this is like
Dropp with a little more risk involved.
Enterprise, Inc., Shields are a great match for the Blink plan
anyway. They require money, but can also save you from a Bolter
Cluster. In this case, Banpei can be crippling because you will
need this program for the whole game.
The last thing to consider is how much risk you want to take breaking
any particular subroutine. The more Blinks you have available, the
better chance you have of breaking a subroutine. Here is a chart:
This is a great graph, look at it
Pick your number of Blinks based on how many subroutines you think
you will be facing on a particular run, and how badly you need to
How Much Damage?
If you use Blink, you are going to take Net damage. Developing a
scheme to handle that damage is key. Choosing a scheme involves
balancing the speed of your setup and the amount of damage you are
willing to take. Here are the statistics on the amount of damage
you can expect to take: This is another great graph, look at it
Here are some plans for dealing with the damage:
"Green Knight" Surge Buffers are a favorite. They are
free to install, and you can tap them like lands in Magic as you
use them during a run (you even get an untap phase at the start
of each turn). If you are planning on making more than one run each
turn, make sure and include enough Surge Buffers to handle the extra
runs. You might also consider throwing a few Cortical Stimulators
into the mix as an alternative to breaking brain damage subroutines.
the downside is that it takes a lot of actions to install enough
Surge Buffers to really feel safe.
Weefle Initiation is great unless the fort is too big. It's a
one-shot, so plan on getting it back or including enough copies
in your deck to handle all your runs. MIT West Tier is nearly indespensible
here, as is Junkyard BBS. Another downside is that if you play Weefle
Initiation at the start of each run, you can't play any other preps
that might be useful.
Shields are the old standard from B.P. (Before Proteus). They
require MU, though, so you will need to plan on including some Imps,
Afreets, or Mem Chips. It might be smart to throw in a few Force
Shields as an alternative to breaking brain damage subroutines.
Enterprise, Inc., Shields are the modern favorite. The good news
is that they are always working. The bad news is that you always
need money to use them. Half of the attraction of Blink is that
it is free. If you are going to play with EI Shields, it isn't free
anymore. This is also the only solution which comes in a single
card, which can really reduce your setup time.
How Many Bits?
Blink is a free breaker, but the cost associated with its failure
can be high. Plus, you are always going to want to trash Nodes and
Upgrages. Choosing a method to generate bits involves balancing
your damage prevention, card trashing, and trace and tag prevention
against the efficiency of your card drawing and actions.
There are tons of traditional bit engines that can really work
for you in this stack. They include Score!, Livewire's Contacts,
Organ Donor, MIT West Tier, Loan from Chiba, and Lucidrine Booster
Drug. I don't recommend any of these, they defeat the whole purpose
of playing with Blink (free runs!). You might as well replace your
Blinks with Bartmoss and Joan and go full-cheese ahead.
How about providing MU for some Poltergeists, Scattershots, and
a Techtronica Utility Suit? Those specialized bits should cover
most of your bases. You could also install a single Newsgroup Filter
for all your cash needs. And I can't recommend Zetatech Software
Installer strongly enough. Bakdoor (yes Bakdoor) can be a great
base link with the Utility Suit and plenty of MU.
As much as I hate to say it, you will definitely want to install
a Joan of Arc if you play with all these programs. Better safe than
You'll still need to pick out a method for drawing your cards and
programs. Add in some powerful synergy cards like Wilson, Weeflerunner
Apprentice and All-Nighter. Even the dreaded Lifesaver Nanosurgeons
can come in handy.
Don't forget your Clowns. Blink has a strength of five, which is
high, but not as high as Colonel Faliure, Liche, Cinderella, Haunting
Inquisition, Toughonium Wall, Homing Missile (sometimes) or Wall
of Ice. You need a pair of Clowns to be safe.
Since Blink gets riskier as a fort gets deeper ICE, consider some
ICE destruction. A pair of Startup Immolators and a Microtech Backup
Drive can remove ICE with multiple subroutines and make the next
run less risky.
Whatever you decide, the stack you end up with will be fun and
innovative without being helpless. Let me know if you make any breakthroughs.