|The Corporate Agenda
An Android: Netrunner Strategy Article by Guest Writer El-ad David Amir
|Android: Netrunner The Card Game | Published 26 March 2014|
“Good morning, Chairman Hiro. I have your tea and a summary of today’s reports. The news of the Harmony Medtech break-in has made the public more open to our research, and Nisei reports that their latest psi work is proceeding ahead of schedule. They also predict a viral mainframe intrusion by midnight. Would you like a croissant?”
–from Chairman Hiro’s daily updates
Today, he directs our attention to the game’s Corps and the ways in which they can utilize the various assets at their disposal to safeguard and advance their agendas.
El-ad David Amir on the Corporate Agenda
The average corp salaryman is the envy of nearly every layperson dwelling in the world of Android: Netrunner. What then of those division heads who breathe the rarified air near the top of corporate hierarchy? Standing near the pinnacle of the socio-economic ladder, these talented individuals have earned their entry into and advancement through some of the most powerful organizations on Earth… and beyond. As the most forward-thinking corps continue to advance homo sapiens toward its destiny as the ruling race of the solar system, their salarymen must accordingly stand among the strongest, most brilliant, and happiest humans alive, right?
As a corp division head, you know that things are not that simple. Life as a vital component of one of the world’s most successful businesses comes with its own thorny set of challenges and pressures. Chief among these is the task of securing your data on the net. Pesky criminals trouble you at every turn, attacking your servers and messing up your plans. In order to earn your keep, you need to prevent these “runners” from hindering your company’s goals, but you have to do so without diverting so many funds from your core objectives that you fall behind your corporation’s schedule for advancing key agendas.
In Android: Netrunner, your success – and that of your Corp – is measured by the number of agenda points you can score. You must score seven of them in order to win. The trick is to figure out how best to use your available resources to both advance your agendas and delay the runner from stealing all that data for themselves.
Fortunately, your company supplies you with a plethora of tools with which you can fight these social misfits. These include nasty pieces of ice, malicious traps, and well-trained mercenaries willing to leave their morals at the door (usually as they blow it open with a C4 charge). You can’t afford to overlook any of these options; runners are a blight upon your spreadsheets, and you must keep them out of the corp’s precious servers – at all costs.
Ice Your Servers
The most straightforward method of blocking a runner is to protect your servers with layers of ice, defensive programs that hinder an intruder’s progress in various ways. The simplest pieces of ice are insurmountable bits of code that end a hacker’s run. More sophisticated programs can tax a runner’s resources, trash his programs, or even cause his rig to blow up in his face. Whenever a runner encounters a piece of ice, he gets hit by its subroutines one at a time unless he can employ the correct icebreaker and spend the credits needed to power it up and activate it.
An example of a highly developed Corporation, with ice installed on all its servers, including two remote servers.
While a single piece of ice on each server might be enough to stop the runner early on, you’ll need more and more layers as the game progresses. When it comes to defending your precious data, you want big servers, so-called “towers of ice” that layer up to four or five pieces of ice, one after the other. Then, even if the runner has the matching icebreakers, he’ll still need to pay ten or more credits to bust into your remote server. Continue installing cards in such a remote – either agendas, assets, or upgrades – and eventually you’ll either score the points you need, or attrition will cause the runner to run out of steam.
Run the Shell Game
Installing non-agenda cards to bait the Runner into squandering his credits leads us to the next method at the Corp’s disposal: subterfuge. All of the cards on your side of the table enter the game unrezzed, and the Runner does not know what they are until he can interact with them (by encountering ice or accessing cards in servers) or until you trigger their effects (for example, by scoring the agenda that the Runner hoped to steal).
Ambush cards are a means of hitting back at any attacker willing to run blind against your servers. When you install an ambush in a remote server, the Runner might believe it’s an agenda he can score, but your ambush may trigger any of a variety of effects; some trash programs, some tag, some deal damage, and some may introduce other effects. You might also be able to advance your ambush. This makes your deception complete: For all intents and purposes, an advanced ambush looks like an agenda that you’re about to score. The wager, here, is that your opponent might pack expose effects and use them before approaching. However, more often than not, they will not have the card to expose your ambush when they need it. You then force the Runner into a powerful dilemma: Is it an ambush or an agenda? If he runs into an ambush, he may face severe punishment. Even better, if you bluff well when you install an agenda and the runner falls to your mind game, you score.
Hunt the Runner
It had been a long night, but it was nearly over. The words on the screen read, “Trace complete.” Soon, she would receive a call, and it would just be two words: “Flatline achieved.” She didn’t like how she felt after coordinating a Black Ops mission, but after a jog, a late dinner at Pilogi’s, and a bottle of their finest champagne, she always managed to get a good night’s sleep.
Both of the strategies detailed above play to the Corp’s primary victory condition. You set up your defenses and your remotes, maybe spice them up with an ambush or two, but your ultimate goal remains unchanged: advance seven points worth of agendas.
However, the Corp can also find victory through an alternate means: causing the Runner to lose. By incorporating some aggressive, direct damage effects into your deck, you can take the fight to the Runner and try to flatline him. Make him pay for the untold credits that his runs cost your company. Flatlining the Runner is a victory condition because when the runner is buried under twenty tons of rubble or reduced to a vegetative state, he is no longer able to assault your servers.
There are ample means for achieving this goal, and you can meet it with any type of damage, or through any combination of different types. Weyland excels at meat damage with Scorched Earth (Core Set, 99) and Punitive Counterstrike (True Colors, 79); either of these cards can deal the Runner a hefty chunk of meat damage, and if you play one twice, the game is usually over. Jinteki excels at inflicting net damage and has been known to finish off more than one Runner with a thousand cuts from Ronin (Future Proof, 112) and Neural EMP (Core Set, 72). Haas-Bioroid and NBN prefer to outsource their programs to flatline Runners that threaten them, but they have also been known to recruit and utilize their own Private Security Forces (Core Set, 107) every now and again.
As the Corp, you are bound by the rules of Android: Netrunner to include a minimm number of agenda points in your deck, so you’ll always want to give careful consideration to the ways you may advance and score those agendas. It’s always best to be able to play layers of ice along with a good shell game, but if you also include cards that allow you to hunt down a reckless Runner and immediately end the game, you gain another dimension to your deck and to your game, making it harder for the Runner to anticipate your next move.
Predictability Is Fatal
When playing corp predictability is fatal. If you just follow a favorite recipe and recycle your tricks, an experienced Runner will skip merrily through the drops and jeopardize your servers. By mixing and matching elements of the above strategies in your deck and gameplay, and by taking some unpredictable gambles and incorporating unexpected plays, you will rise victorious. A promotion may be just around the corner: Who knows: Maybe that’s Chairman Hiro on the line right now, offering you a new position?
Are you looking for more tips and tricks as you seek to climb the corporate ladder? Head to our community forums, and share your experiences balancing the three basic elements of Corp strategies that El-ad has defined.
Then, stay tuned. There’s plenty of Android: Netrunner yet to come!
Based on the classic card game designed by Richard Garfield, Android: Netrunner The Card Game is a game for two players set in the dystopian future of Android. It pits monolothic megacorps against subversive netrunners in a high-stakes struggle for the control of valuable data.