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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey

Hacking on a Budget

Jim McCoy and I recently talked about building a stack with cheap cards. If you've played Netrunner for very long, you know that "bits are everything." The challenge is to construct a stack that can perform on as little cash as possible.

Dennis Duncan's "Bozomatic" is the king of these decks. It uses Zetatech Software Installers and Clowns to put the Runner in a cash-free environment. It might be the coolest idea for a stack in Netrunner's short history. I avoided Jack 'n' Joe and Zetatech Software Installer out of respect for Bozomatic. You can add them if you prefer.

This stack sets up quickly, but uses as few bits as possible. The prototype costs 19 bits to install. It should generate about 70 bits in a game.

I tried to avoid multiples of powerful cards like Loan from Chiba. You could replace the 15 bit-gaining cards with 11 Loans and 4 Access through Alpha and have a much easier game. Not nearly as much fun, though.

The rarity distribution is Rares/Uncommons/Vitals/Commons: 4/8/11/24

Here's the stack:

Programs (14) Preps (17) Resources (11) Hardware (5)

Bits (17):
3 Corolla Speed Chip
1 Databroker
3 Livewire's Contacts
1 Loan from Chiba
1 Lucidrine Booster Drug
2 On the Fast Track
1 Poltergeist
2 Short-Term Contract
3 Streetware Distributor

Wasn't this stack supposed to work without bits? The tradeoff for a quick setup is using bits to break ICE. If you want to go completely bitless, "Bozomatic" is as good as it gets.

An Organ Donor might help in the late game if your hand is full of cards you don't need. I left out Smith's Pawnshop because there aren't many cards that you will want to part with, once installed. Poltergeist is a nice match for On the Fast Track.

MU (3):
1 Imp
2 WuTech Mem Chip

Even if you never get any of these cards, you should still be able to function. There are 7 MU of programs in the stack, but you're not likely to install them all.

Icebreakers (9):
1 Big Frackin' Gun
3 Codecracker
3 Jackhammer
2 Raptor

Plenty of room to experiment here. These breakers were chosen for their low installation cost. Hammer might be an improvement, and Pile Driver could save big money against large Walls. Breaking the Sentries is going to be hard. The Corolla Speed Chips should help.

Card Access (9):
6 If You Want it Done Right...
3 Cruising for Netwatch

You won't get the bulk draws of Bodyweight Synthetic Blood, but you should be able to pick and choose the cards you need with If You Want it Done Right...

Detection (3):
1 False Echo
1 Ice and Data's Guide to the Net
1 Mouse

False Echo serves a dual purpose. It can force the Corp to spend the bits it was saving, and it shows you the ICE you will encounter next time you run the fort.

Defense (5):
1 Access to Kiribati
1 Back Door to Hilliard
1 Emergency Self-Construct
1 Fall Guy
1 Weefle Initiation

This is minimal protection. If you have a bunch of cards, you could replace these with Full Body Conversions and feel nearly as safe. Make sure and install these if you have any fears at all. The Weefle Initiation is designed to make it easier to pass Liche and other horrors. It can also take the beating from a Vacant Soulkiller or Virus Test Site. Just make sure you know it's coming (use the Mouse).

Juice (1):
1 Preying Mantis

There is no MRAM in this stack. Use the Preying Mantis (and his drug, Lucidrine) with extreme caution. Those brain cells aren't going to be replaced.

For a Runner on a budget, this is a decent setup. There is no "lock" here, which means difficulty in finishing a Corp off if the game progresses to the later stages. If you want to spend big money, you could add in a Corporate Ally to help slow the CEO down.

I hope you have fun with this stack. At worst, it may give you some ideas for Gridlock II Weekend. Meanwhile, I'm going back to the mailroom to earn another four bits.