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"Elementary, My Dear Wilson!"
- Famous Netrunner Stacks -
#6: HYHADIARS (Hope You Have A Disinfectant In A Roving Sub)

by Jens Kreutzer (using material by David Liu, with permission)
(thanks to Holger Janssen and Daniel Schneider for their helpful comments)

Just like Bozomatic, HYHADIARS (or HYHAD for short) uses the devastating Viral Pipeline from Proteus(tm) as its winning strategy. The main goal is to deliver three Pipe counters and thereby strip away the Corp's single most important asset: actions. Combined with at least two Code Viral Caches, a vicious lock situation for the Corp ensues: A Corp with three Pipe counters has 0 actions per turn and must forgo its next 3 actions to remove the Pipe counters. Normally this would work, but the Caches prevent precisely this option - and since it costs an action (which the Corp doesn't have) plus 5 bits to get rid of a Code Viral Cache, the Corp won't ever get back any actions during the remainder of the game, losing eventually through R&D depletion.

When David Liu created his HYHAD stack in October 1996, he unleashed a steamroller that would flatten many a Corp during its notorious career - for unlike Bozomatic, it is downright brutal. Jim McCoy, for instance, used it at EuCon and was undefeated. On June 16, 1997, David posted a deck listing of his HYHAD deck to the Netrunner-l discussion list and also gave a very detailed and elaborate account of its strategy and tactics. This article is based on David's email to a large part, and if you're interested in the topic, you should definitely have a look at it. Just order the appropriate digest ("get netrunner-l log9706C") from the Oracle list server.

The following is David Liu's original deck list (45 cards):

    11 Loan from Chiba
    7 Bodyweight(tm) Synthetic Blood
    4 Militech MRAM Chip
    1 Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker
    1 Joan of Arc
    1 Viral Pipeline
    4 Code Viral Cache
    2 Pirate Broadcast
    2 Inside Job
    2 Junkyard BBS
    3 Time to Collect
    3 Airport Locker
    2 The Deck
    2 Fall Guy

Like all virus stacks, HYHAD intends to do a lot of running during its games. Viral Pipeline demands a successful run on HQ, R&D, and Archives before it yields a Pipe counter. To cut down on actions, David uses Pirate Broadcast, which conveniently accomplishes these three runs in one action - the extra agenda point is just icing on the cake. Not wasting time with the installation of a full 'breaker suite, David chooses the ubiquitous Bartmoss/Joan of Arc combination to deal with any kind of ice that might be encountered. It is well known that Bartmoss is efficient as far as speed, MU cost, and versatility are concerned, but also that it gets expensive fast if used often (and can fail the Runner during Pirate Broadcast runs on two unlucky rolls of the dice). Therefore, 11 Loan from Chiba are needed to fuel Bartmoss with ludicrous amounts of bits. As a safeguard against premature death by a trashed Loan, David relies on The Deck, Fall Guy, Junkyard BBS, and Time to Collect, the latter of which also protects the Code Viral Caches.

To add still more speed, Bodyweight(tm) Synthetic Blood, in combination with Militech MRAM Chips, quickly gets all essential cards into the Runner's hands. The one Bartmoss is swiftly found with the Airport Lockers, as is Joan of Arc or Viral Pipeline. This kind of card access power, combined with Inside Job (mainly targeted at HQ for an early Code Viral Cache or two), means that the Runner can start doing business almost right from the start. A Corp will have a very hard time building a quick defence against a bit-gaining strategy relying on Loan from Chiba. If it starts off by icing a subfort right away and going for a quickly scored agenda, HYHAD can easily postpone its ultimate plans and go for the agenda, using Inside Job or Airport Locker/Bartmoss in combination with Loan from Chiba.

To paraphrase David's email to the list, HYHAD has three ways of winning:

  • The lock: Three Pipe counters plus two Code Viral Caches mean slow, agonizing death by R&D depletion.
  • Frequent runs: Taking into account the large number of runs made during HYHAD games, the Runner has a good chance of serendipitous agenda finds - which might yield the 7 points for the victory.
  • Pirate Broadcasts: Even if the Runner finds fewer than 7 agenda points while accessing cards, these can eventually make up the difference.
Often, HYHAD can win in fewer than 9 turns.

Incidentally, even a Disinfectant in a Roving Submarine, seemingly a safe protection against Pipe counters, won't do the Corp much good against this stack, despite its name. HYHAD can easily run and trash any Roving Sub with a Disinfectant on a moment's notice a couple of turns into the game. What's more, a Corp player who puts lots of Roving Subs and Disinfectants into his or her deck will have a hard time winning in any case, since those cards don't really help scoring agenda. All in all, the name HYHADIARS is more of a joke than the fear of a possible nemesis.

To quote David Liu again, his stack has a very clear-cut schedule of goals to accomplish. First, get the Code Viral Caches and Time to Collects into play (probably using Inside Job), while being on the lookout for signs of impending Tag 'n' Bag hazards. If the Corp seems likely to use this strategy, first install protection cards like The Deck and Fall Guy to guard the Loans. Against brain and Net damage, big hand size usually constitutes enough of a buffer to prevent a flatline; vital cards lost in this way can be retrieved using Junkyard BBS. The biggest danger to HYHAD is a City Surveillance rezzed when the Runner is just playing a Bodyweight Synthetic Blood; therefore, all suspicious nodes should be trashed or investigated right away. As soon as this preliminary phase is over, the Runner can install the program suite (if he or she hasn't done so already) and start to deliver Pipe counters, either using Pirate Broadcasts or making single runs on the relevant forts.

One interesting sidenote concerning Pipe counters: As David also pointed out, the timing rules really favor the Runner here. The moment there is one Socket counter each on R&D, Archives, and HQ, they immediately convert into a Pipe counter. As long as there is at least one Code Viral Cache installed, the Corp cannot do much about that first Pipe counter. Just before the last Socket counter is delivered, the Corp cannot forgo actions to lose the other two counters - because of the Cache. Since the Runner always gets priority when both players want to perform an action at the same time, he or she can shortcut the Corp by invoking this priority rule when the Corp wants to forgo actions, pressing through with the conversion of the counters instead. Once the Pipe counter is in place, it is protected by the Code Viral Cache(s) once more. Usually, the tide has turned against the Corp by this time; with only two actions a turn it is seriously crippled, and later in the game, with three Pipe counters in place, the Runner can usually deliver counters faster than the Corp can forgo actions.

If HYHAD has a structural weakness, it is, quite surprisingly, a problem with supplying bits in the long term. Although Loan from Chiba is the most efficient Runner bit engine in the whole of Netrunner, it still might not be enough for the demands of HYHAD. Airport Locker is a fast way to get at programs, but it is extravagantly expensive to use. Likewise, the frequent Bartmoss runs are very taxing for the Runner's bit pool. Eleven Loans provide 132 bits, less about 50 bits for installation and Bodyweight Synthetic Blood, leaving maybe 80 bits for running - enough to break through 10 Hellhounds, no more, no less. If these bits are used up in a longer game, HYHAD burns out. It just can't gain any more quick bits after all of the Loans from Chiba are installed. Luckily for HYHAD, it usually wins before this happens - but if the Corp can sit out the initial onslaught, it is likely to win.

What are survival strategies for a Corporation that faces a HYHAD stack, then? Really heavy ice, as might be found in a Rent-to-Own deck, could eventually stop the Loan-powered Bartmoss Memorial Icebreaker. On the other hand, a Rent-to-Own Corp will never have enough bits to trash a Code Viral Cache: Once it has a Pipe counter, it cannot get rid of it. A trap-heavy deck that deals lots of Net or brain damage might slow down or even cripple HYHAD, if vital cards end up in the trash to be retrieved with Junkyard BBS. If both Junkyards themselves go, it might be "game over" for the Runner. Tag 'n' Bag might work too, but with defenses like The Deck and Fall Guy available, meat damage must hit fast and heavily. Another possibility is Underworld Mole to go for the Loans. City Surveillance is possibly the most dangerous card for the Runner, as has been mentioned above. Edgerunner, Inc., Temps is always good for providing actions that can be forgone to remove virus counters. Classic's Superserum agenda might also be worth a thought, since it circumvents the Code Viral Caches. All in all, it's a race against time - a superfast Corp strategy might outrun HYHAD, but it will be very hard pressed. Advice: Ice HQ as heavily as possible and trash all Code Viral Caches on sight, which is more feasible in a Revised Constructed environment (see the following paragraph).

The power of HYHAD has not gone unnoticed, of course, and that is why the new Revised Constructed format addresses this "problem", among others. In a Revised Constructed tournament, the trashing of Code Viral Caches cannot be prevented by Time to Collect, which gives the Corp a better chance of breaking through the lock. Apparently, this erratum to Code Viral Cache is going to be a general one, applying to all formats (qv. Argi's article on Revised Constructed), which really is a relief for all Corp players. Incidentally, Revised's making Viral Pipeline unique doesn't affect HYHAD at all, since it just uses one copy of it anyway. Still, only time will tell whether HYHAD will continue its success story in Revised tourneys, too.

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