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A Trade-In Deck that Wins

When Trade-In was spoiled I wanted to make a deck with it. There was a lot of excitement about a hardware tutor (finally!) and something just drew me to the card. However, there were some haters in the crowd that didn’t like it. And you know what? I agreed with them! Here’s what we all know about Trade-In:

There are 3 main reasons to not run Trade-In:

  1. It’s too slow (takes 3 clicks in total to get the intended hardware installed)
  2. It’s too bulky (you’ll need 3 Trade-In’s, probably 3 crappy hardwares that you will trade in, plus extra hardware that you will tutor for. This will take up a minimum of 9 deck slots just to get hardware out)
  3. The payoff is too small (there’s not a lot of OP hardware out there right now)

Alas, I wanted to give it a shot and try to build a deck. Below I’m going to try and replicate my process for building this deck and then I’ll talk about how to pilot this deck to victory. Please note that this is not a theory-crafting article, but a proven deck that I win with a lot. I’m something like 12-1 in the most recent Stimhack League on OCTGN and do very well with in in my local meta (Portland, Oregon area).

With that, let’s start deckbuilding!

##The Core

Trade-In has two components, the hardware you are trading in and the hardware you are tutoring for. The latter aspect is easier to identify so let’s list the most powerful hardwares and see where are.

  • Desperado
  • The Interfaces (R&D and HQ)
  • Plascrete Carapace
  • Feedback Filter

Desperado is an easy choice here. Simply put, it’s the best console in the game (by far) and a hell of a deal for 2 credits with the Kate discount (did I mention I’m running this in Kate?). We’ll get 3 R&D Interfaces since there are no influence costs and a singleton HQI for the opposite reason. A single Plascrete and a Feedback Filter will fill out our tutorable hardware. These 5 cards will not win you the game outright, but it’s a pretty solid protection, economy, and multi-access hardware suite that most (all?) competitive decks run in some form. Hopefully this will address Reason 3 above.

Now, we need a good target to trade in. Here, we must look no further than Rabbit Hole. Rabbit Hole allows us to get multiples out in one click (see Reason 1 above) and serves some utility in and of itself (addressing the bulkiness issue in Reason 2). If we are truly running Rabbit Hole then it seems necessary to run Underworld Contacts as well. A UC/Rabbit Hole economy has never been bad, per say, but it was always on the fringe of being amazing. The added utility of Rabbit Hole being Trade-In fodder might just push us over the edge!

So, the core of our deck is here. 16 cards:

(3) Trade-In
(3) Rabbit Hole
(3) Underworld Contacts
(1) Desperado
(3) R&D Interface
(1) HQ Interface
(1) Plascrete Carapace
(1) Feedback Filter

Honorable Omissions:

  • E3 Feedback Implants (this is a great card to counter HB and help along usually expensive icebreakers like Darwin, Knight, or Creeper [WTF did he just say?]. However, for reasons you will see above we just don’t have the influence for it)

  • Replicator (my first runner deck I ever built was a Replicator deck that I placed 5th with at my first Store Championship - curse you, @BazookaJoe! - so, I have a soft spot in my heart for Replicator. However, this just adds to the reasons to not run Trade-In. Replicator is bulky, slow, and costs too much. In other words, a Trade-In Replicator deck would be so much worse than a straight up Replicator deck, which is pretty bad)

  • Any of your other hardware you really like (sorry, there’s either no deckslots or influence for your pet hardware - deal with it)

##Fill Out Dat Econ

There are few aspects more important in deckbuilding than runner economy. Luckily, our Core got us started with Desperado and Underworld Contacts.

I think of Runner Economy with the following conventions: Clickless Economy, Click-Intensive Economy, and Burst Economy. Both Desperado and UC are solidly in the Clickless Econ (CE) category and CE is my personal favorite to use. Another note on Desperado is it sets us up for a run-centric economy as well.

With that setup, here is my economy:

  • +2 Security Testing (it’s been said before that a Desperado/Security Testing econ package is the most powerful in the game. Let’s go for that)
  • +3 Dirty Laundry (pretty standard stuff here. We want to run to get Desperado going and DL makes those runs even more beneficial economically)
  • +3 Sure Gamble (a little Burst never hurt anyone - this is especially nice turn 1 and/or when the Corp feels it has a scoring window)

Now we are sitting at 24 cards - over halfway there! Note that we are at 11 influence with only 4 left to go.

Honorable Omissions:

  • Daily Casts (a great economy card for a CE package - I could really use the boost and I may test this instead of Sure Gamble at some point. However, my money tells me I need the Burst. I wish I had the room!)

  • Kati Jones (such an amazing card, but I like to build decks without her to see if they will work - remember how I love CE? I’d really like her for Glacier matchups. Look further down to some of my flavor picks if you want to add Kati to your deck)

##Time to Break Some Shit

All the multi access, click efficiency, and economy won’t get you into servers. At some point you are going to have to break some subroutines on ICE.

We are solidly into a Clickless Economy where we want to run. Run A LOT. First thought I had was Atman and she’s stuck ever since. With Atman we need some Datasuckers, which further synergize with a clickless, run-centric economy. Pretty basic stuff here, but I got lucky that my first thought on an icebreaker package has stuck and I’ve never looked back.

  • +3 Atman (nothing much more to say here. If you want to run a lot and make those runs efficient, there’s no one better than Atman)
  • +2 Datasucker (I’d like to run more, but I want that extra 2 influence)
  • +1 Inti (best breaker in the game BY FAR. But seriously, I need to break through Wraparound and with datasucker support I can often get through low strength barriers fairly easily. Did I mention it also breaks NEXT Silver efficiently? Did I mention it cost ZERO TO INSTALL!?!?!? Like I said, best breaker ever)
  • +1 ZU.13 Key Master (Another cheap icebreaker when I’m in a pinch. Helps a lot with NEXT Bronze and it’s changing subs as well as the cheap gear check decoders. Oh, and its Cloud status is a nice MU bonus)

Honorable Omissions:

  • Cerberus Lady H1 (such a good card, but I won’t have a solid way to recur her - more on this later - and Atman at 4 is the second best option for Eli. I also need to keep install costs down as Atman can get expensive to install at times. I honestly haven’t tested her yet in this deck, but my gut tells me she’s just not the right fit)

  • Mimic (this deck wants a Mimic so badly. Seriously, this deck would be so much fucking better with a Mimic. Just thinking about not having a Mimic in this deck makes me cry)

  • Sharpshooter (Archer and Grim are a problem and this card would help me. Alas, card slots)

  • Deus X (another great Icebreaker, but Feedback Filter gives me what I need)

  • Femme Fatale (install costs are really a thing and she is the opposite of efficiency for actually breaking shit. I also don’t run spoiler alert Test Run)

Ok, let’s have a refresher of where our deck is now:

Event (9)

Hardware (10)

Resource (5)

Icebreaker (5)

Program (2)

13 influence spent (max 15)
31 cards (min 45)

##Give Me the Essentials

Here are the Shaper Essentials I have thrown in that help make the deck just work:

  • +3 Self Modifying Code (a great tutor and you’d be a fucking idiot not to run it)
  • +3 Clone Chip (such a great card and one of the few that I install almost right away every time)
  • +3 Diesel (a weakness of the deck is card draw - Diesel helps)

Honorable Omissions:

  • Test Run (a great card and I’d love to have it. Unfortunately it’s a bit slow - remember Reason #1? - and Atman is a horrible target for Test Run. I’d like it for Parasite but it just doesn’t work in the deck)

  • Quality Tim (another great card, but the 3 credit cost is often too much. The econ margin is slim and you have to be careful with every credit early on. Diesel is much better here)

We now have 5 cardslots and 2 influence left. Let’s spice things up…


  • +2 Maker’s Eye (another great card from Core that works very well with our run-heavy deck. I usually score at least 1 agenda each game with one of these two cards. Great shit!)
  • +1 Parasite (not an auto-include and maybe a meta-call for you, but it’s a fucking good card. This is also where my Clone Chips often go and if the cards come in the right order I might be able to just play classic Shaper ICE destruction and win)
  • +2 John Masanori (this is a dead draw against most HB and Weyland decks, but really helps against Jinteki and NBN. Like I said above, card draw is a problem for this deck and if I see Masanori early then it no longer becomes a problem. The deck also doesn’t mind floating tags as all my resources are cheap to install and my multi-access doesn’t mind the Corp spending time and money on trashing cheap shit)

Honorable Omissions:

  • Legwork (this card is fucking awesome and I keep thinking about having this instead of HQI. All things being equal, Legwork is better. However, the fact that I can tutor for HQI and I should be able to get into any server multiple times a turn makes HQI a better fit for this deck)

  • Indexing (another great card and it synergizes well with RDI. Now that I think about it, I should test this deck with Indexing instead of Maker’s Eye. To be fair, however, I only need one hail mary run at the end of the game where I access 5 or 6 cards through a 4-ICE deep R&D with Maker’s Eye. With Indexing I’d have to do that twice. Again, Glacier can be a problem for me)

#Final Deck

So, here we have it. A deck I’ve been playing extensively for two months and one that I think is fucking good. Have a look-see…

Barter Lady v1.1

Kate “Mac” McCaffrey: Digital Tinker (Core Set)

Event (14)

Hardware (13)

Resource (7)

Icebreaker (5)

Program (6)

15 influence spent (max 15)
45 cards (min 45)
Cards up to Up and Over

Decklist published on NetrunnerDB

##How Do I Play this Mother Fucker?

I won’t lie - this deck doesn’t look too good on paper. Not bad, but not good either. This deck takes time to master, but it’s worth the wait. You get that badass feeling of a Criminal with Desperado/Security Testing, the surge of joy an Anarch feels when blowing up ICE with Parasite, and the classic shaper tricks with SMC and Atman. You also get to be way cooler than your friends by playing Rabbit Hole and Underworld Contacts on turn 1 and beat them.

Let’s talk about Mulligan strategy and go over a few key matchups and how I pilot the deck.

##Mulligan Strategy

You need to have econ in your opening hand. I know that’s nothing crazy to say, but trust me. Basically you either need to have a Security Testing, an Underworld with a Rabbit Hole, or a Sure Gamble. You have about a 87.3% of that happening when using this strategy to Mulligan. Throw in Dirty Laundry and Trade-In shenanigans, and the other ~13% of games you will do just fine.

Note: If your first hand contains both Rabbit Hole and Trade-In (~9% probability) think hard if you want to keep it. Essentially you are looking at a 3 click-2 turn-4 cost Desperado and a Rabbit Hole installed.

Another All Star that is super great to see in your opening hand is Datasucker. Most of my Datasucker decks have contained 3 so I never valued the first one that much. Don’t make this mistake. Too often you are going to have to blow an SMC on that first datasucker (which you need) so getting it for free in an opening hand might be too good to pass up.

A situational card you want to see in your opening hand is John Masanori. Against PE or NBN you definitely want to see this guy. You might also love to see him if you have Sure Gamble, SMC, Datasucker, Security Testing, John Masanori. With that hand you will be able to bring havoc to pretty much any corporation early on.


Let’s first talk: NEH/FA

This is a tough matchup (duh!). Rely on your R&D Interfaces, open servers with Security Testing/John Masanori, and your Maker’s Eye to get them on an R&D lock they can’t get out of. Our lack of Legwork really hurts so seeing that early really helps or trading in for one if you need to.

In this matchup our Underworld Contacts and 3rd Rabbit Hole are going to be dead draws. That fucking sucks. The way you get over it is by installing 2 Rabbit Holes and trading in both of them for Interfaces and Desperado. You need multi access and to run constantly. Don’t worry, you can do it. I believe in you!


I really don’t consider RP to be very similar to the HB Glacier matchup, but some of the same rules apply.

Getting an early Datasucker going is very important here. A good corp will be locking out your Datasucker tokens with timely purges so keeping up the pressure is very important. This is accomplished with Security Testing and Parasite as well. Mulligan aggressively for Datasucker here for sure. Also know that Underworld Contacts is going to be huge for you in this game. If you see a Rabbit Hole in your opening hand consider keeping because you’ll probably see an Underworld sooner or later.

Masanori is going to be a judgement call here. He might be a dead draw, but he might net you 5 or 6 cards throughout the game. It’s very safe to float tags against Glacier so don’t worry about the tags, although it sucks to lose your Underworld against this matchup. Again, be careful and learn how to use Masanori against these types of corps.

PE/Net Damage Decks

You need to get Masanori, Security Testing, and Feedback Filter going right now. Like, right now man, what are you waiting for???

You shouldn’t have any trouble beating these decks. Sure, your Feedback Filter is a one-of, but that’s why we run Trade-In. If you are a good player then this deck will treat you well against PE and those Jinteki-types.

Blue Sun/Any other sucker playing BABW

Masanori is definitely going to be a dead draw here and you are going to need to rely on running for you economy - yeah, I know, that’s a dangerous proposition. Further, Oversighted Walls are going to be a problem for you. Luckily, we have Datasucker. You need to mulligan aggressively for either a Datasucker or an SMC with economy. Underworld Contacts is another star and you’ll see this deck so some awesome things against Weyland and other Scorch decks. Oh, and don’t forget your one-of Plascrete. You might want to tutor for that instead of your Desperado.

Making News/Midseasons/Tag-Trace Heavy

Your Rabbit Holes will make them cry cry cry. This deck will love to see a Caduceus down and the extra link can really help keep you in the game against trace Operations.

#Final Thoughts

I really love this deck and I hope I haven’t wasted your time. People post so many decks they often haven’t even played yet. That is called theory-crafting. I’m not doing that here. Instead, I’ve played this deck over a hundred times and it keeps winning for me (even against good players).

Thanks for your time!



nice and fresh idea. finally someone’s working deck with my beloved rabbit hole <3 :smile:

Only thing about Jinteki: PE matchup is you have to be careful to play the Security Testing before you play Masanori, otherwise you risk Masanori-drawing Feedback Filter and losing it to Net Damage.

Kudos, this is exactly the kind of deck list post I want to see. An interesting spin on classic Katman, and a good writeup.


I’m confused what you mean here. However, your point about playing Feedback Filter as soon as possible against PE is a great point. There are no ways to recur hardware and you can’t risk losing it.

Masanori forces you to draw whenever there is a successful run, not whenever a successful run ends.

This means that if Feedback Filter is on the top of your deck and you run on an unadvanced Psychic Field, you’ll draw it into hand upon choosing to access, access Psychic Field, and then lose your Feedback Filter.

This is the most clear-cut case, but what Masanori does to your game against PE is this: normally, the only cards you can lose to Net Damage are the ones in your grip, and you know what those are. Specifically, you know that none of them are Feedback Filter. If Masanori is out, the top card of your stack is also vulnerable, and you don’t know that that card isn’t Feedback Filter. If you make a habit of running centrals and remotes with Masanori out (and without Security Testing), you will lose games because Masanori draws into Feedback Filter and you hit a Snare / Fetal / whatever.

Obviously, once Feedback Filter is out, you can go to town.


Totally a fair point and one to keep in mind. I think I made a mistake when talking about the PE matchup. I focused on Feedback Filter (rightfully so), but didn’t mention how important Security Testing is. Even just getting free runs on Archives for tokens and money is huge.


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First of all, this is a really cool idea - thanks for providing such a comprehensive write-up!

But now, I’m going to be that guy: Wouldn’t this deck just be better in Criminal? I can’t help but notice that your all-star cards are exactly the cards you’d expect to see in an Andysucker deck, especially Desperado and Security Testing. In Andromeda, you could run 3 of each and probably just draw both in your opening hand.

As far as I can tell, the unique points of this build are:

  • Kate’s ID
  • Atman
  • Rabbit Hole + Underworld Contacts econ
  • SMC/Clone Chip

But if you played Andy, you’d get:

  • Andy’s ID (and so probably faster setup)
  • Account Siphon
  • Faerie
  • Legwork

I’m sure you’ve considered this comparison before, and perhaps you’ve even played both decks. What do you see as the key advantage(s) of this deck?


i can see what u did there, but there is at least few reasons:

  • not liking blue
  • will to play something unusual, yet having a real chance to fight against so called toptieroctgn meta
  • splashing atmans, suckers and single parasite fills up your influence, so there is no space for r&d interface in criminal

everything can be argued to be better as andy. but its really boring :wink:

I’ve thought the same thing many times (I imagine @mediohxcore saying this to any deck that tries criminal tricks). Bottom line: Andy is good and the all stars in this deck are amazing in Criminal (obviously).

You are missing a key component here: the ability to tutor for Feedback Filter, Plascrete, and your Interfaces. In Andy you will run 3 Desperado, 1/2 Plascrete, and 1 Feedback Filter (probably). Not to mention 2/3 R&D Interfaces for NEH. That’s 8 card slots. Trade-In Kate can do the same for those same 8 card slots (3 TI, 1 Desperado, 1 FF, 1 Plascrete, 1 Interface each) with more consistency (able to tutor for them).

Honestly, I don’t really miss Siphon or Faerie, although they are great cards. The best part about Andy compared to this deck is 9 cards and Legwork. It’s a trade-off (see what I did there?) but it still works.

Another quick note to not underestimate how much better a singleton Parasite is with SMC and Clone Chip.

And there’s that, too.

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What you’re talking about is a different deck, perhaps with a stronger win rating; but it’s not an Atman/Hardware deck.

I think this question gets to, why not play the best deck and less of what about this deck could be improved? If we talk about the diff of the two decks and what choices are the same (largely just economy here) , and then look at the strategy for entry and consistency, we can make interesting points.

But ultimatley the question here is, for this deck type:

  • Can it win in the current meta?
  • The answer is apparently yes.
  • Are there better choices available to the deck given the deck’s restrictions?
  • You might argue that an ID change would make the deck better, but I think you can only do that after having tried to maximize the deck where it is now.
  • More relevalant questions would be about deck slots. This is ultimately an atman deck, which only shaper has ever done well. (Anarch lacks the consistency and Criminal lacks the influence for the moving parts)

There’s a final point I want to make here, which really comes down to this. Are you an engineer or are you a pilot. A pilot is far more concerned about picking the best deck available to them and winning with it. An engineer is far more concerned about discovering new deck types and determining whether they’re working or not and how they could be better.

If we’re all pilots then our meta is boring because very few people try anything new. If we’re all engineers then we may lose a sense of “best” strategy for a given metagame as we’re more focused on how to improve this particular machine.

I think you’re a pilot who just walked into a group of engineers and is asking which car to drive. Its a valid point to be making as a possible driver of this deck, but you also have to consider what choices were made and take it for a test drive to make that determination.


I’m just excited that people are starting to play this deck. It will be interesting to see if others find it effective, love that they can win with a Trade-In deck, and hopefully start winning tournaments come SC season.

Talking with @soulraiden on OCTGN this morning, he had played it a few times and, while once the rig was setup it was unstoppable, he found it a bit slow at the beginning. This is a very fair point and I want to address this. Here are some tips on how I use Rabbit Hole:

  • I rarely install all 3 Rabbit Holes. That is 5 credits and I usually only need to use Trade-In once a game. If I’m rich early and sitting on 2 Trade-Ins then I will install all three, or if I’m against trace ICE/Operations.
  • If I see my Desperado early and don’t see any UCs (or make the decision that UC would be too slow for a short/rush/FA-type of game then I will not even install my Rabbit Holes.
  • If I see my Desperado and HQI early then I may only install 1 Rabbit
    Hole just to turn on UC
  • Be very careful of your early tempo. If you can hold off on playing out your Rabbit Hole/UC/Trade-In combo sitting in your hand in order to keep pressure on, do it! This is not a Leela, Iain deck. You don’t want to sit back and let the corp get set up.

Hope this helps!

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Oh yeah, you forgot an awesome card that this deck should totally have:


Nice to see you followed up on the deck johnny. And glad to hear its doing well.

Did you ever try any experimentation on Astrolabe?

I’ve been playing games where people have been burning astrolabe with aesop. And I think the trade in value is stronger.

Just being an engineer here, a bit I would suggest changing 1 trade-in for an SOT.

Tradein requires hardware to be installed - which means that you are requiring Rabbit Hole. So having the tradein before the rabbit hole is not so useful. Plus, as you say, in many matchups you will be doing precisely one trade in. Sot can be replicated for a maker or sure…


I think if you do this you’d need to go Legwork instead of HQI, which is a totally viable option.

Well … If this deck can’t compete on a 50/50 basis the same way Andy/Voicepad Kate can against NEH, I don’t think it’s really worth attention on a competitive point of view. The big elephant in the room is still Fastrobiotic with Architect and if you cant reliably win against good NEH players with your deck, well … having the best win ratio against the rest of the field (which i’m almost certain it isn’t the case) won’t help you. For instance, Blue sun can just advance a couple of time their Hadrian to make a full atman rig cry. The same way RP can shut down half of your econ engine just by icing a pup and an eli on the archive.

I’m not saying the idea of the deck is bad or anything like that but as a competitive player, i’ve some doubts on how well this kind of deck can perform, especially against NEH.


I don’t know where you got the idea that it can’t compete 50/50 against NEH. 3 RDI, a cheap fracter, and lots of money makes sense. I’m only one person playing this deck, but anecdotally I have been winning more than 50% of my NEH matchups. That said, it’s a tough matchup.

To be fair, there aren’t very many good match-ups against NEH at the moment across the board.

Leela, PPvP Kate and Andy with the right build all have a good matchup (above 50%) against NEH.


You are saying this like its an objective fact, but its not. The best data we could have is OCTGN, which is tough because you can’t categorize different builds with IDs.