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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
The Money Cards
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?