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Neal's Last Words


Neal's Last Words

by Byron "Neal" Massey


Programs (28) Resources (21)

7 Big Frackin' Gun (or Looney Goon)
7 Codecracker (or Dupre)
7 Hammer
7 Skullcap

7 Broker
7 Fall Guy
7 Technician Lover

I asked myself, "Self, what's the smallest number of cards you need to run?" I replied, "Hmm, not sure." And thus a new deck idea was born.

The question arose while thinking about ways to get set up quickly as the Runner. The faster you can get ready to run safely (always a relative term), the better chance you have of forcing the Corp to play on your terms. The old-timers out there call that part of the game Phase 3. Naturally, the fewer cards you need to be ready, the faster your "kit" will develop.

"It's also sad when you have to run a second fort with Dupré and he suddenly forgets how to break ice." The first step in this thinking was to rule out Bartmoss/Joan on moral grounds. It's just not right to install your whole breaker suite with 5 bits and two cards. If you choose this option, your setup time will be even lower. Getting the proper numbers of these rares could be difficult, however.

I tried to pick the breakers with the lowest cost that provided the most benefits. For Walls, I chose Hammer. It's equal or better than Jackhammer on every single-sub wall except Data Wall. In my play group, we never use multi-sub walls. You might want to use Jackhammer if you haven't read my "Lazer Wire?" column. Hammer does cost an extra bit to install, but it pays off the first time you use it.

For Code Gates, I had two serious candidates: Skeleton Passkeys and Codecracker. It seems that whenever I install the Passkeys, I end up facing Quandry after Quandry. On the other hand, the Passkeys are tough to beat when you bump into a Mazer. This is a judgement call, but I chose Codecracker because it costs less to install. It definitely won't pay off in the long run, but it should help with setup speed.

Dupré is not out of the question. My one-card lock (see below) would work nicely with Dupré. Unfortunately, it's a rare (although an extremely easy one to trade for), and you might have trouble getting enough copies. It's also sad when you have to run a second fort with Dupré and he suddenly forgets how to break ice. If you have enough copies, try it out and let me know how it works.

Sentries are tough. Smart Corporations use lots of them (although Jim McCoy's Nasty Code Gate Deck is very smart), and there is no cheap breaker that is optimal. You may have read my "Big Morphing Boon" column, where I demonstrate that the expensive Sentry breakers are really worth the money. I chose to ignore my own information in favor of setting up quickly. My candidates were Raptor, Shaka, Big Frackin' Gun, and Looney Goon.

I eliminated Shaka first, for the same reasons I gave in Big Morphing Boon. Most commonly-used Sentry breakers pay the same cost for Banpei, Ice Pick Willie, and D'Arc Knight. Corporations have noticed this fact and elected to only install Banpei, since the extra cost of the other two ice gives no benefit. Shaka beats Looney Goon against PI in the Face and Shock.r, but only by a single bit.

Raptor is the cheapest serious Sentry breaker, but it quickly becomes unreasonably expensive against Sentries with multiple subroutines (most of the popular ones).

Big Frackin' Gun is a great card. The bigger the Sentry, the better you feel about breaking it. It just sucks against Banpei, though. It even makes Looney Goon look good against PI in the Face and Shock.r. Of course, Looney Goon costs two extra bits to install, so there is a trade-off. The plan for my Stack involves four to six runs for the game. That's exactly the break-even point for Looney Goon versus Big Frackin' Gun. It's another judgement call. I chose Big Frackin' Gun, but your milage will definitely vary.

Now I had a breaker suite: Hammer, Codecracker (or Dupré) and Big Frackin' Gun (or Looney Goon). I started to think about making money. Three cards sprang to mind: Newsgroup Filter, Short Term Contract, and Broker. Newsgroup Filter has a huge overhead in cost, MU, and actions. I eliminated it first. Short Term Contract yields eleven bits for seven actions. That's better than a paper route, but not much. That left the Broker. I knew I would be using multiple copies, and when I was stuck in the waiting game, I could be paying into three Brokers.

The last consideration was protecting myself. There are lots of ways to get hurt in Netrunner. A lot of them are the result of being tagged. I needed a low-cost solution that would benefit from multiple copies of the same card. I considered the Nasuko Cycle but gas was too expensive. Expendable Family Member is a great card, but it would be my only hidden resource, which limits the surprise factor. Plus, it costs a bit to use. I settled for my namesake, the Fall Guy. You just gotta love him, don't you?

The other bad things that can happen to a Runner are program trashing, hardware trashing, Net damage and brain damage. I knew I would have a ridiculous number of copies of my programs, so I wouldn't worry about getting them trashed. I wasn't using any hardware, so that was also no problem. That left Net and brain damage. I needed a single card that could protect me from any disaster, and one that would work well in multiples. I settled on Skullcap. Losing a yamulka is no problem if you have a hatrack full of spares in the closet.

Now I just needed some way to pressure the Corp into losing. I knew a solid lock was impossible in my plan (I was morally opposed to using a pile of Viral Pipelines). I need a single card that could show me a target. I was going to use Synchronized Attack on HQ, but I realized I would have no way of knowing when I should use it. Besides, it's a hard-to-get rare. I settled on Technician Lover. The downside of this choice is that the extra copies of T-Lover are useless. But if Corporate goons break down your door and remove your mistress permanently, it's nice to know a replacement is right around the corner.

I was done! Using only seven different cards (6 commons and an uncommon) I had a reasonably complete kit. Quick division told me that I would need seven copies of each card to get close to 45 for the Stack. I named it according to the count, "Sevens".

The good news is that after drawing four cards, you nearly always have the whole setup in hand. It also costs only 11 bits to install - that's only two turns with the Broker. In general, you should put the Broker to work as soon as possible. The Technician Lover should be the second priority. You want to see a lot of Corp cards quickly, so you know what you're up against. The rest is obvious. There are games where the Skullcap is useless, but it's a nice way to skimp on bits when you hit a Bolter Cluster or TRAP!.

Once you have the cards installed, just keep feeding Brokers and using the T-Lover until you see an agenda. Then run and get it. Decks that use three Political Overthrows or three Tycho Extensions and two Corp Wars may be tricky, since a smart Corporation will draw two or three cards each turn to escape the wiles of your Lover. A deck full of Experimental AIs could also be bad if you aren't seeing agendas on top of R&D and the Corporation is taking multiple draws.

The worst thing that can happen is that the Corporation will have two Systematic Layoffs and a Project Consultants in HQ, and just speed-draw to get an agenda before you see one. Sometimes you have to get lucky to win, and sometimes the Corporation wins (but it's not fun). This Stack is not unstoppable, but it should be pretty competitve.

It can also hurt immensely if the Corporation scores a Private Cybernet Police or a Netwatch Operations Office. You must run a Blood Cat as soon as you know where it is. A nice benefit is that since you won't be drawing many cards, you don't need to worry about City Surveillance.