Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
Greyhound Limitation Derby
As the reality of DCI sanctioned tournaments approaches, Netrunner
players are looking Psycho Tycho, Precision Bribery/Time to Collect,
and Artificial Security Directors/Corporate War squarely in the
eye. Long shunned for their mindless and swift dominance, these
decks only become more problematic as Netrunner tournaments become
more competitive. Clearly, some type of control (notice my cowering
avoidance of the term "restriction") is necessary to produce
matches that are both competitive and fun.
"Children should not attempt to build or play this without
I played in a constructed tournament this weekend, winning sweet
revenge against two players who had beaten me the previous week
in sealed play. I normally wouldn't use a Corporation this unimaginative,
but I had been warned that another player was going to be playing
Bodyweight Synthetic Blood/Organ Donor/MIT West Tier as the Runner,
and Corporate War/Artificial Security Directors as the Corporation.
I promised in Karl, Johnny and Neal on the Road to "spare no
dairy products" in my next constructed tournament.
Shedding any shred of decency, I created:
Greyhound Demolition Derby
20 Commons/5 Vitals/2 Uncommons/18 Rares
Agenda (5) Nodes (18) Operations (22)
5 Tycho Extension
2 Project Consultants
12 Accounts Receivable
10 City Surveillance
I played two games where the Runner enjoyed a single turn before
death, and one game where the Runner played two turns before death.
My fourth game, against Bozomatic, went horribly awry when the Runner
installed Emergency Self-Construct on his first turn. I was luckily
able to score two Tycho Extensions with Project Consultants and
If we're wondering how to make this work (no ICE!), here is the
very brief explanation:
1. Install a City Surveillance.
2. Play an Accounts Receivable.
3. We have some options. We can play another Accounts Receivable
if we have one. We can also draw another card, or even take a single
bit ("working in the mail room"). Installing a second
City Surveillance is another great idea. We can even install a Schlaghund
in anticipation of the kill, but it might get trashed.
If the Runner makes a run on any fort, we can play Manhunt on the
next turn and kill him with a Schlaghund. If the Runner doesn't
run, they will almost certainly need to draw cards, and we should
rez up the City Surveillance(s) when this happens. Typically, the
Runner will run to trash the unprotected City Surveillance after
paying a bit for each card drawn.
On our second turn, we should
1. Play a Manhunt with all but two of our bits.
2. Install (if we haven't already) and rez a Schlaghund.
3. Use it.
There are all kinds of variations on how this works, but the effect
is the same.
Is this deck unbeatable? No. The Runner will often die on the second
turn, however, which leaves little time for a solution. The inpsiration
was to kill TagMe Runners with Meat damage. The unfortunate side-effect
was killing nearly everyone, nearly instantly.
Precision Bribery/Time to Collect could be difficult to beat, depending
on the steel nerves of the Runner, who must decide how much he believes
in Time to Collect as a way to protect his many resources (assuming
he takes the City Surveillance tags).
A Bodyweight/Organ Donor/TagMe combo (I've never seen one but perhaps
it could be done?) could install a couple of Full Body Conversions
on the first turn and slow the Greyhounds down tremendously.
A first-turn Credit Subversion or Weather-to-Finance Pipe would
also stop the second-turn kill (assuming the Corp hadn't played
two Accounts Receivable on its first turn).
It's scary to see how many options this rare-laden monstrosity
takes away, though. Children should not attempt to build or play
this without adult supervision.
Clearly the concept of unlimited deck construction allows some real
problems. A popular attempt at dealing with constructed decks is
to impose a limit of "three-of-a-kind" on all cards. As
an old Magic player, I'm very leery of this idea. The "four-of-a-kind"
Magic restriction took many, many, many fun cards out of consideration
as serious tools, including Mesa Pegasi and Plague Rats.
It also provokes players to include the same cards in all their
decks. You can expect to see three copies of Jack 'n' Joe, Cruising
for Netwatch, Stakeout, Score! and Livewire's Contacts in just about
Another objection is that the "three-of-a-kind" restriction
doesn't prevent very short, very boring games. Decent versions of
the most powerful decks can still be constructed under these limitations.
My solution to this dilemma is to place limitations on the number
of copies of problem cards, letting all other cards be used without
limitation. Here's a stab at the cards that should be limited, and
the number of copies:
0 Viral Pipeline
2 Code Viral Cache
2 Full Body Conversion
0 Identity Donor
2 MIT West Tier
2 Loan from Chiba
2 Precision Bribery
2 Chicago Branch
2 City Surveillance
2 Management Shakeups
2 Off-Site Backups
2 Overtime Incentives
2 Project Consultants
2 Systematic Layoffs
2 Corporate War
2 Tycho Extension
This is a very preliminary list. Send me examples of overpowered
decks that can still be built under these restrictions. Or, send
me examples of fun, creative decks that are ruined by these limits.
Some of the cards could become unlimited via errata. Perhaps the
"Unique" keyword could also be used as a tool of limitation?
I wish that honor and sportsmanship were enough to make this step
unnecessary. Unfortunately, they aren't. As Netrunner tournaments
become more competitive, and prizes become larger, the temptation
to build merciless, thoughtless decks will become too great.
Let's get ready before it happens.