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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey

Meet My Friends

I thought I'd take a few minutes to introduce you to my favorite Netrunner cards. I've chosen to organize the list into groups according to their effects. Some of the cards fit well into more than one group, but you can sort out the details in Netspace.


The Tagging Cards

Netwatch Operations Office
It's just too darn easy, isn't it? Pick up a couple of agenda points and install a non-trashable Blood Cat. Most fun in sealed-deck, but this card can make a big impact against any links except Bakdoor and Access through Alpha.

Private Cybernet Police
This one is great in a deck full of advanceable traps, due to its high difficulty. Just keep advancing it. Make sure the Runner sees a Virus Test Site or Vacant Soulkiller first, though. Hint: Don't show him our Scorched Earth until after we score it.

"How many times have you run HQ, taking a pot shot, having no idea if there are any good cards to find?"

Audit of Call Records
Underworld Mole
The top two cards for getting a Runner tagged early. Audit of Call Records is so good because it's free, and the Runner never thinks a tag is coming if we are flat broke. Underworld Mole is very expensive and very mean. It's a great argument for the idea that every Runner must play TagMe. Wouldn't that suck?

Corporate Detective Agency
Too powerful not to include, but somehow we never do. It can save an action and three bits, which is huge. Combining this with Audit of Call Records is a one-bit destruction derby. Playing it with Underworld Mole is more expensive and proportionately more destructive.

Omniscience Foundation
Schlaghund Pointers
It's such a great feeling to tag Runners who think they are invulnerable, isn't it? Schlaghund Pointers is nice because we don't need to draw it early. A copy or two is plenty for a deck, since it is good whenever it comes up. Omniscience Foundation is such a nice surprise for those Runners who "take the tag" and then clear it with their last action. It's like a notarized copy of your Shipping Manifests, if you know what we mean.

Data Raven
Counters are great when they force the Runner to remove them, and Raven counters do. It's a strength five Sentry that must be broken, and it just keeps on giving. The earlier we rez it up, the better. We just love it when the Runner sees our bit pool at five and has no programs installed (the first couple of turns). "What can happen?" he asks.

The Surprises

Lisa Blyte
It's so beautiful when a handful of cards and five bits becomes 24 Net damage from a Bolter Cluster. Or six tags. Or (don't try this at home, kids) six Mastiff or Cerberus counters. She can be unreasonably severe with a well-placed Dog Pile.

Dr. Dreff
This has got to be the most popular card in Netrunner. The ruling that Dreff's ICE is in some sort of "Dreff Space" (not installed or on/in any fort) has limited the Doctor's practice. But he still serves up a mean Pocket Virtual Reality (just before accessing Dedicated Response Team(s)) or Bolter Cluster.

Bolter Cluster
A Guarantee of major damage if a single routine is unbroken. Pair this ICE with either of the Sysops in this category for a sizzling good time.

The Money Cards

Raymond Ellison
A one-man insurance firm. The higher the difficulty of our agendas, the better he works. Government Contract is better, but it has to be protected in its own fort. Raymond can also be an hilarious bluff when pulling counters off of Vapor Ops or a Virus Test Site.

Government Contract
Just try it once. Just once. We promise you will be amazed at the possibilities. Big ICE, small ICE, many small forts, or one large fort. It's all good. And the best part is having the Runner working his way inside the ICE protecting the Contract, as we pull off counters to rez that same ICE. When (if) he finally arrives, the Contract has expired and all that ICE is rezzed. If our Chicago Branch takes out a Contract, watch out.

Braindance Campaign
Government Contract makes this work. Advance the Contract a couple times, then use the counters to rez up Braindance. Free, actionless money for 2 bits and two actions. Even Fast-Trackers get upset with this two-card financial scam.

Syd Meyer Superstores
Everything must go! Walls, Code Gates, we're blowing it all out! Phase 3 has arrived, are you ready? You are if you have a Superstore near you. All those Filters and Data Walls that were working so well in the beginning just became four bits per action.

Tokyo-Chiba Infighting
This card really came into its own with Siren. There's nothing like earning an honest day's pay for keeping data thieves out of Corporate files, is there? Since it costs zero to rez, we can hardly lose by trying it out in any fort. The worst that can happen is that the Runner will get in. If he spends six bits to trash your zero-rez City Grid, how nice for us.

Ice Handling

Security Purge
We're still convinced that 32 Giant ICE, 9 Security Purges, and 4 Sirens is a great deck that nearly plays itself. Dang Inside Job.

Chester Mix
He's so economical and so fun. Big forts are cool, and Chester can make them happen on only pennies per ICE. If we score a Data Fort Reclamation, once of the coolest things we can do is install and rez Chester as our first card.

Omni Kismet, Ph.D.
We've settled on Omni as the single best way to put specific ICE on a fort. He only takes on action to install (he's free!) and he can place a Tutor at the top of a fort or a Dog Pile at the bottom just when the Runner isn't prepared. It's just so great not to worry about the installation order of ICE.


Bizarre Encryption Scheme
It's so free, and so easy, and so effective. Another card that is too powerful not to include, but we never do. It's like fast advancement without the cheese and HQ clogging. Stupid Death from Above.

Genetics Visionary Acquisition
So fun because Research agendas are so seldom seen. Easier to trade for, too. Pair them up with Black Ice Quality Assurance, Ice Transmutation, and AI Board Member for some truly excellent power at rock-bottom difficulty.


Tesseract Fort Construction
Crystal Palace Station Grid
Bits are everything, as we know. Put these cards together and force the Runner to pay, pay, pay. It's expensive to set up, but that's why we're working on a Government Contract, right?

Department of Misinformation
The rebirth of advanceable traps. Or any traps, for that matter. Use it with our Shattered Remains, our Antibodies, and our Virus Test Sites. Use it with anything that is better left unknown.

Doppleganger Antibody
Pattel Antibody
There is no good way for the Runner to get rid of these counters, which are crippling if delivered in multiples. if we can get a Runner down to zero bits with several Doppleganger counters, he usually cannot recover. It's a weird but beautiful lock. Try it, you won't regret it.



Armored Fridge
Who doesn't like the Fridge? It has the best flavor text of any Netrunner card. And it really works! The whole concept is so hilarious and so effective. You have to be careful of line voltage fluctuations, but the Power Grid is pretty stable in 2020.

Evil Twin
These Sentry breakers are just too much fun to play with. For Wildcard, consider spending all your money on The Personal Touch instead of installation costs. For sixteen bits you have a super breaker. Of course it does take five cards. Evil Twin? "Evil Indeed".

MicroTech Backup Drive
Way more fun than Joan of Arc. It doesn't take up MU, and it doesn't take up space in your hand when you use it, and it doesn't cost a bit to use. Consider it strongly in any deck that needs to regularly save programs with low installation costs, like Startup Immolator or I Spy.

Pattel's Virus
I once made a deck with eight copies of Pattel's Virus. It's fun to reduce a Mastiff to a Chihuahua in a single run. Unfortunately, the Corp can shut down, but that just gives you a free turn to do it over again. Cascade is a Runner's dream. How much would you pay to force face-up discards at the start of each Corp turn? The cost seems ridiculous compared to Viral Pipeline and Scaldan, but the effect is also ridiculous. Try it, you won't regret it.

If you have a powerful stack you can create a lot of tied games with this card. Just keep burning agenda points until neither side can win. This card is a beautiful slap in the faces of people who play with Hostile Takeover, Executive Extraction, and Artificial Security Directors.

Field Reporter for Ice and Data
Read all about it in my column called "Using the First Amendment".

Expert Schedule Analyzer
It's amazing to me that this card is not used more. How many times have you run HQ, taking a pot shot, having no idea if there are any good cards to find? This power is well worth the 1 MU and zero bits it costs.

False Echo
Perhaps Netrunner's must undervalued card. It serves the double purpose of forcing the Corp to spend bits and revealing ICE before it's encountered. It became nearly omnipotent when Proteus brought Demolition Run.

Synchronized Attack on HQ
This is card is also underused. Any plan that involves running HQ can benefit from this gem. There is absolutely no downside or sacrifice to this card. Make sure and use it, especially in Phase 3 when you have your Crumble installed.

This card has a huge overhead - six bits and two MU. But you only pay it once. You should wait and see the type of ICE the Corp is using, and then install this in an Imp or Afreet if there are any ICE with a rez cost of 6 or more. Just keep Disintegrating until the Corp is broke or you can run for free. What could be nicer?

Hopefully these cards will give you some ideas for new, creative decks. I don't advocate playing with Hell's Run and Rabbit just because they suck. I don't particularly enjoy scoring out on turn four with Psycho Tycho, either. Hopefully, these cards are a nice compromise. They deliver a nice bang for the buck and are not bad. They're just misunderstood.

When can I meet your friends?