Welcome to the second of our faction overview articles for Android: Netrunner ! If you’re a new player, you’ve come to the right spot to learn what the Shaper faction is all about.

Guest writer Andrew Grace is an avid player in Salt Lake City, where he coordinates the Android: Netrunner league at Game Night Games . He is also a fervent advocate of the game’s Shaper faction.

Why Go Shaper?

My least favorite thing to say as a Runner is “Click Two, I draw a card.” ( “That’s a Snare!” rates as a close second, but I try to be a good sport about such things.)

Spending clicks to draw cards is the necessary-but-evil byproduct of the open-ended, click-based turn system that keeps Android: Netrunner riveting at every stage of a match. Yet every time I spend a click to draw a card, I’m not spending a click to play a card, and I buy Data Packs to play cards. More to the point, spending a click to a draw a card is Criminally inefficient. If you don’t get the card you want, you’re one click poorer and no strategically richer.

So the first reason Shapers are the best faction ever is that they’re the best at giving you the cards you want when you want them. You never have to tell your opponent that you’re spending a click to draw a card and then grimace when you pull your third copy of the sentry breaker you’ve already installed.

Shapers are masters of getting what they want – when they want it – for two reasons: card draw and card search.

Shapers have the cards with the most effective card-drawing mechanics, like Diesel ( Core Set , 34) and Quality Time ( Humanity’s Shadow , 87). Even as they benefit from the immediate bursts of cards that these events supply, Shapers get to save two influence by running the universally beloved Professional Contacts ( Creation and Control , 49) in-faction. “ProCon,” as we efficiency-oriented Shapers call it, turns every click spent drawing a card into two clicks, one for the card and one for the credit. Cards like these not only enable Shapers to get their rigs together in the early game; they can protect your grip against taxing net damage and potentially lethal meat damage as you approach the endgame.

But Shapers don’t just rely on drawing more cards; they know how to search for the programs they need with cards like Test Run ( Cyber Exodus , 47), Scavenge ( Creation and Control , 34), Self-modifying Code ( Creation and Control , 46), and Clone Chip ( Creation and Control , 38). Self-modifying Code (or SMC) and Clone Chip, in particular, enable you to run fearlessly into unidentified ICE. Whether the Corp rezzes a sentry like Komainu ( Honor and Profit , 17) or a barrier like Ice Wall ( Core Set , 103), you can search your stack or heap mid-run for the most efficient breaker and continue on your way.

The Shapers’ proclivity for recovering cards from their heaps also means they can make optimal use of one-shot programs like Deus X ( A Study in Static , 66), Sharpshooter ( True Colors , 67), Faerie ( Future Proof , 104), and Grappling Hook ( Honor and Profit , 45) that offer maximum breaking power for minimal cost.

Know More About the Corp Than the Corp Itself

All of that card-drawing efficiency pays off when you achieve the vaunted “R&D lock,” in which you successfully access three or four cards from your opponent’s deck each turn, giving you the power to steal agendas before the Corp can feasibly draw them. Shapers excel at accessing cards from R&D and not just because they’re perpetually curious.

Even Criminals and Anarchs commonly spend their influence on R&D Interface ( Future Proof , 107) and The Maker’s Eye ( Core Set , 36) to start locking down their opponents. Shapers can also take advantage of in-faction cards with high influence costs like Indexing ( Future Proof , 106), which enables them to look at, and arrange, the top five cards in R&D without accessing them. Combined with R&D Interface or The Maker’s Eye, this wins games for you when you can move two agendas to the top of the deck. It also keeps you alive against the more vicious Jinteki decks by letting you uncover copies of Shock! ( True Colors , 73) and Snare! ( Core Set , 70) without triggering their ambushes.

Of course, you can’t really lock down R&D if you have to spend three turns rebuilding your credit pile between each run. This is why Shapers assemble hardware and code programs to make themselves the masters of recurring credits. By installing two or three copies of Cloak ( Creation and Control , 41), a Toolbox ( Core Set , 41), and a couple of Lockpicks ( Opening Moves , 6) before playing your Net Celebrity ( The Spaces Between , 38), you can afford to run every turn, especially if you’re gaining another credit or two each turn by talking to your Professional Contacts.

Run with the True Angels of New Angeles

But my love for Shapers isn’t all about click efficiency and R&D locks. The way I see it, Shapers are the least ambiguous “good guys” in the game. That may not be important to everyone, but I’m the kind of guy who plays Paladins the way they’re meant to be played, by giving my opponents a fair warning before launching a sneak attack and by raising my sword against evil demons on sight no matter how outmatched I am. So yeah, I like to play on the side of the angels, and not only are Shapers pure at heart, they’re happy to let you know about it with cards like Notoriety ( Trace Amount , 26) and Net Celebrity that give them benefits when they take credit (as well as credits).

Criminals are obviously just in it for the money. They want to get in quietly and get out quickly. So long as they’re making money from a broken system, they’ll never be interested in fixing it. Anarchs make a good show of rejecting the oppressive status quo. But they’ll always be too focused on breaking things apart to recognize the importance of building something new.

But that’s what Shapers do. They fix things and they build things, and then they show off how awesome their things are. Sure, they can seem a bit conceited — and I’ve seen a lot of Shapers lose games because they were too busy building the perfect rig to stop the Corp from scoring agendas — but look at how affable they are!

When an opponent flatlines my Anarch with a well-timed Scorched Earth ( Core Set , 99), I congratulate him on a solid play. When someone destroys my Dinosaurus ( Cyber Exodus , 48) with a sneaky Shattered Remains ( First Contact , 50), I shed a single tear and swear to the Net that I can fix it, and if I can’t, I’ll build a new rig – better, stronger, faster.

Thanks, Andrew!

Are you one of those Runners who’s less interested in scoring a couple credits than chasing all the latest tech? Then you just might be a Shaper!

On the other hand, if you’re not quite certain that Shapers are the Runners that resonate most with your play style, then you can check out El-ad David Amir’s guide to the Anarch faction and keep checking back as we look at the defining elements of the Criminals and the game’s Corp factions. After all, in Android: Netrunner , your faction’s personality isn’t just flavor, it’s a guide to how your deck may function.

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.

Netrunner is a TM of R. Talsorian Games, Inc. Android is TM & ©2015 Fantasy Flight Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. Netrunner is licensed by Wizards of the Coast LLC. ©2015 Wizards.
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