Neal's Last Words
by Byron "Neal" Massey
Programs (28) Resources (21)
7 Big Frackin' Gun (or Looney Goon)
7 Codecracker (or Dupre)
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,
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
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
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